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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"That's my hat." She stole it!

Tall enough for the water slide!

Flora and fauna or foliage and birds...


Today's post features hide and seek with birds. We have shy Goldfinches and incredibly noisy house finches. Remember that you can click on any picture to see it larger. Happy bird hunting!






Hey Muggin, is this guy a phoebe or a tufted titmouse or someone I don't know about yet?



I remain a sucker for morning light on trees. 







And while I was roaming around taking pictures, I heard rustling. One of Carrie's toads was hopping about in the dead leaves, so we got an extreme closeup.



That's it for today's nature post. Happy last day of May, everyone!





Monday, May 30, 2016

Gettin' into the Garden



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The part where I bang my head against the wall


There are lots of jokes out there about the world having two kinds of people- the morning people and everyone else. 

We are not a family of early birds around here. Let me just tell you that in case it has somehow escaped your notice from any other blog post about mornings or bus schedules or breakfast or in case this is your first time on the blog. Hello! Welcome to our niche of crazy!

For example, Carrie sets two alarms, one for 6:15 and one for 6:30 and then on a good day she gets out of bed at 6:45 to catch her 7:10 school bus. 

Got all that? 

She can pull this off because she wears the same hoodie and jeans/shorts pretty much daily, changing out her T shirt, socks, and skivvies. She owns several combs- uses none of them- maybe brushes her teeth after breakfast if she has time, does no makeup, very little jewelry. This is my no-fuss girl, and I thank God for that. 

Now, we have multiple bathrooms, so it shouldn't be an issue of not being able to get into one in the morning. However, this morning she was in the tiny loo downstairs because it's closest to the garage door we leave from to get to the bus. She'd meant to just dash in and out, so she didn't shut the door the whole way.

Damon comes staggering downstairs, leaps out at Dada and I with a cheerful, "BOO!" and proceeds to head to the the same tiny loo where he usually does his morning routine. He starts to push open the door (remember that THIS kid has been up all of 3 minutes) and she bashes it shut the whole way, hitting him in the head.

After kisses and gentle admonitions to always, always knock just in case, I manage to get Carrie out the door so he can get in there. (He's fine, she only clipped him.)

After her bus comes and goes and I'm back inside, I realize that I still haven't even seen Liam, whose alarm went off almost 15 minutes ago. Damon is wandering around, accumulating his breakfast, and Dada heads up to check on Liam's progress. 

I throw our sheets into the washer and come back down to Honey Nut Cheerios ("Bee O's" in our house, because of the honeybee on the box of the genuine ones) all over the floor by Liam's seat. Apparently gross motor skills are not happening on this Tuesday morning. 

I swear he sleepwalks through breakfast today, putzing and interfering with the thank you card full and fully-dressed Damon is working on for his teacher, being scolded redirected several times. 

The phone rings. 

Let me just stop right there, because if you're new around here you probably don't know that I despise the telephone. My sweet, sweet innocent husband gently reminds me that when the phone rings it's because someone wants to talk to me, and that I should not snarl as I pick it up.

I let the machine get it and hear, "hey Mom, it's me, and I..."

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

"Hello?"

"Hey Mom, it's me. In my backpack [which she hasn't taken for the last two weeks because she has only been carrying her binder] is a weather and science hard back book that I need for seventh period. Could you please bring it to school?"

*Here's where you insert every mental argument and counter argument about teaching responsibility (not taking it- it was her book, her responsibility), teachable moments (showing grace by taking it in; she's just a kid, and it IS the third-to-last day of school), waffle between those and other scenarios instantaneously in your head. I did.*

"Are you supposed to turn them in today?"

"Haha, well, actually, that was yesterday, but I forgot, and then I forgot again today..."

Nail in your coffin, my girl, nail in your coffin...

"I'll think about it. Have a good day. I love you! Bye!"

"Okay, bye." [Because Heaven help her if she uses any type of affection over the phone in the Office, bless her heart.]

Eventually, the spilled Bee O's get swept up, (thank you, Dada, who has already left for work by this point), with Liam topping off the dustpan before emptying it for our birds and squirrels out front. I physically take his pajamas from him so that he has no choice but to get dressed in the school clothes I had to pick out for him last night because he was busy with karate and last minute Boy Scout requirements that are due Thursday. He's dressed and sent to brush his teeth. He takes his backpack with him.

What the ?

Damon is done with his card at this point and is chattering about glow in the dark bracelets that he's holding and something about the basement and something about school and "because Liam did."

What's that?

Liam has escaped into the bathroom with his backpack, at this point articulating the argument by using our own words of wisdom back at us thus, "I'm supposed to be clear and copious!"

When the door opens, I am right there like a vulture, going through the backpack.

"WHY is there a cape in here!?"

"I only wanted it for recess!"

Yeah, that banging you hear? It's just me beating my head against the bathroom wall. Carry on, citizens.




Monday, May 23, 2016

How could I have forgotten this Baltimore cuteness?!

A new toy for Dada


Dada and Carrie headed to a Saturday auction and came home with a fancy pirate kite, some wooden boards, and a Rototiller. They had help getting it home. (Thanks again, Jeff and Cindy!)

So he had to test it out. Hey, it just so happens we needed to get the gardens going. How 'bout that!?




Worked like a charm and we're all delighted. The tiny garden behind the house is planted; the big garden by the creek is tilled and ready to go. Carrie and I spent a lot of yesterday pulling weeds and inadvertently severing worms, sending spiders scurrying and dandelion seeds floating. It was truly sunny for the first time, and I enjoyed every single second of pinkening my skin. That's the word I'm coining. I was afraid my feet were burning in my sandals, so I did what generations of bacon have done. I headed into the creek to apply mud and, whaddaya know, it actually worked! I should have done my back... 

May-hem of graduations


I've already mentioned how May is traditionally a crazy hectic month with the end-of-the-school-year everything and Carrie's birthday. I can only imagine what it'll become once we add in Proms, graduation parties, and all that jazz. Yoi.

This particular May we already had two graduations. 

Yes, you read that right. Two.

May is the second of four karate graduations spread throughout the year. They're usually February, which we missed because I had the flu and Damon wasn't progressing anyway), May, August, and November. 

Two of those graduation dates are black belt graduations, which are extra special as you get performances by the black belt students who have been working for at least 3 years on becoming a black belt. This particular weekend, our amazing friends Nina and Jonathan received their black belts, and the kids' instructor, Mr. Stanford, was receiving his fourth degree black belt. Well, we couldn't miss that!








Parents normally are the ones who tie on a student's new belt to finish the graduation. However, black belts are different in that the instructors get to tie them on. Then there's flowers and pictures and all of that, often followed by ice cream (if you're related to the same people that we are related to, anyway). 

Here are some snippets of the gazillions of photos taken:




Check out that ankle pivoting, above (which is a good thing) and how quick he is- that kid is a blur! Hehe.






I promise, they didn't kick that innocent brown belt off the stage. Just trying to give you a sense of the kicks...


Once you're a high enough belt, you need to create your own katta/routine. Our favorite student performance was cleverly done to "Flight of the Bumblebee", and she used flyswatters. It brought the house down:


Not the best picture, but a hilarious reminder if you were there. 

And Mr. Stanford wowed us all with his Wushu skills:



It was really special for the kids (and the parents!) to get to cheer on Mr. Stanford. He is a super instructor and it was so much fun to see just him doing his thing instead of teaching. 

Don't ever be offended if someone tells you that you kick like a girl. I sure wouldn't want to mess with this one:


Not that kicking like a boy is a bad thing either!



And I keep hearing Goliath from "David and the Giant Pickle" of VeggieTales fame when I see these; am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?



I know that it's not all sunshine and roses. There are plenty of days that the kids do not want to go to karate, and I'd be painting an inaccurate picture if I implied that they're always 100% behind all this. But when we see the intensity and accuracy they're developing, along with the focus that some of us need more desperately than others, I am convinced that it is building incredible skills in our children. It makes it worth the 45-50 minutes of being in the car several times a week on top of the time it takes for the lessons knowing their instructors are top quality and that they're learning not only self-defense that we hope they won't need, but focus, determination, steadfastness, and how to push their minds and bodies in a safe place. While they're getting kicked. Just kidding! These kids work hard, and that all happens after they've spent an entire day in school already.





I should mention that this graduation kicked off a new facet. The instructors thought it would be fun if the students' friends and families wore the colors of the belts their students were progressing to. Damon was becoming a blue belt and the big kids were becoming red belts, so Dada and I decked out in red and blue. There were raffle tickets to be awarded according to how much "school spirit" you showed. Well, as Nina and Jonathan were becoming black belts, you can see that one of the ninjas below is actually Rita. 



Safe to say, Dada got more than one raffle ticket and made the instructors' day a little brighter. 





An amazing job displaying months of hard work was shown by all. We're really, really proud of these kiddos. 

And thank goodness for freer summer schedules!


***

You thought this post would be over now, didn't you? Ahh, but I'd mentioned graduations, plural, earlier. No, Carrie isn't that old, yet. I'm talking Kindergarten graduation!



Aren't their caps a total hoot!?



PaPa will be super pleased to know that someone did all the motions and sang all the songs required of him. There was the obligatory adorable slide-show of the year, from the pumpkins and leaves of last fall through all the winter activities to the field trips and butterflies of spring. These kids are busy doing way more than stringing beads and playing with blocks. Damon's class had a hard cover book published about their coveted future careers, complete with art work and a write up from every student. In Kindergarten, I remember boys kicking and throwing those cardboard building bricks. It's so interesting to me how much more capable kids are than we tend to think.  

Anyway, it was a rehearsed-to-perfection graduation followed by cookies and punch.     



And then the Kindergarteners were dismissed to go home with their families. That'd be Damon, getting outta Dodge. They still have four more days of school, but it was one super sweet graduation that I'm glad we could attend!