Monday, November 13, 2017

And yet another karate graduation

We officially have two certified black belts and a red/black belt in the house now. Carrie and Liam received their certificates on Saturday confirming that their six month probationary period is over and they are full-fledged karate black belts. Damon wrapped up his six month red belt cycle with honors and was promoted to red/black, the final six months before he earns his black belt, provided he passes all of his black belt testing this spring.  Naturally we have millions of pictures, but I shall take pity on you and try to limit myself to only some. We have been experiencing technical difficulties this morning, most likely user error, so please bear with me. 

These kiddos have worked their bums off. It's not always been pretty, and they haven't always wanted to go, but they have stuck with it for over three years and it was fantastic to see their hard work pay off. We are really proud of them physically being able to do it but more so the perseverance of sticking with it even when they didn't feel like it, when it would have been much easier on everyone to sit on the couch and watch Netflix and eat junk. But they practiced and showed up and tested and practiced some more, and now here they are! Great job, you guys! Enjoy your success!

Saturday, November 04, 2017


Liam didn't make known any special requests for cake this year, so he got a yellow cake with fudgy frosting and chocolate chips. It took one big breath to get all those candles out and he was so fast we didn't even get an action shot. The candles were lit, and then they were not. Happy 12th birthday, pumpkin. How did you get so old!?

Pumpkins' Progress

At some point in all the birthday and Halloween craziness, time must be found to carve pumpkins. It took shifts and Dada taking a week off of work to fit everything in (only half kidding), but we made it!

Damon's, missing teeth just like him:

Liam's scary one:

Carrie's character facing fiery flames:

Mine, to go between the boys':

Visiting friend Josh was shanghaied into carving one as well. He did a fair share of protesting, but gave in...

With a fun end result!

All dressed up and no place to go

Kidding! All dressed up to hit the town! Everyone was excited about trick-or-treat, including Carrie (faceless phantom) who had declared last year to be her last time begging for candy. Perhaps it had something to do with being allowed to go with her friend Isaac (chicken killer, killed chicken? Not sure what's going on there) through the same neighborhood we'd be visiting. Damon found a storm trooper costume that he fell in love with, and while you may assume that Liam teamed up to go as the Emperor, I'd then have to point out his humungous scythe. That's right. He's Death. Dada then borrowed the Harpo Marx wig and coat which Liam used last year, but the honking horn couldn't be found before we needed to leave. It was okay though, because that Captain Jack you see before you wasn't me this year, it was our good friend Josh who was in town all the way from Hawaii and he was game enough to let us dress him up, too. After purchasing latex pointed ears and a fancy cape that will definitely be worn again and again to get all of our money's worth out of it, I was transformed into an Elf with a little bit of help from clothing and jewelry I already owned: win! Even Pap, who was visiting for Liam's birthday, was tickled about risk-or-treating, because he didn't have to go this year. He got to stay warm at our house, supervising the dogs and reading a book. 

It was frigid, hitting 31 later that night, and I suppose it may have had something to do with the runny noses and scratchy throats some of us are now experiencing. I'm not sure who's in charge of planning Halloween costumes, but I don't believe they've figured out that trick-or-treat is usually in October and in the northern hemisphere that means winter is coming and you may have to fit a snowsuit under that sleeveless fairy costume with the gossamer wings, my dear. Thankfully it was dry and frigid as opposed to that time maybe 3 years ago when we tried gathering our candy in freezing rain. Poor Josh observed, "hmmm, my blood has definitely thinned since moving to Hawaii!" 

At any rate, our town allows an hour and a half and we were thrilled to finish, get home, sort loot, pay taxes (the kids to us, of course) and procrastinate on going to bed. Liam was too busy assembling his birthday gift from Pap to even take more than a bite of his frosting from his slice of cake before trick-or-treating; it is such a crazy evening between school/dinner/homework/costumes on/leave to then try to add in any kind of birthday celebration. I probably make that observation every year. 

Safe to say a good time was had by all!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This message is brought to you today by Tech 101

File this one under Texts I Never Thought I'd Get:

Sure enough, it was one of our machetes. Thing Two had taken it out back for reasons unknown and had then forgotten about it. Fortunately, our lovely neighbor (read "who is SO patient with us") discovered it and it wasn't hidden and therefore mowed over or anything like that. I shudder to think the damage a machete could do to an unsuspecting riding lawnmower.

And then there's this one, which perfectly sums up not only our lovely fall weekend but our family dynamics as well:  

I believe it was last fall that I posted about once you see a cattail begin to poof, get that sucker out of the house as fast as possible without making any wind while doing it or you're going to need stock in vacuum cleaners. Cattails are outstanding outside toys. Even Dada had a good time squeezing them and watching the endless amounts of seed fuzzies spread. 

Our yard is still coated with pockets of seeds, might I add...

Rub a dub dub

This post is for my mother, who begged me to blog as she was sure I had anecdotes to share. I believe that's what you call jinxing things, like walking past a church nursery and commenting on how quiet it is. 

Thing 3 was in the bathtub, which had already had a small amount of bubble bath added to the water. I attempt to sneak some bites of my dinner in the other room and heard him holler, "Moooooom! Wash me!" When I open the door, lo and behold, there is one sudsy kid in that tub. I immediately notice more bubbles than should be there given the amount I had poured in. 


I next notice a good two more inches missing in the level of the strawberry shampoo bottle.

Mystery solved.

This kid is NEVER going to be rinsed clean of strawberry shampoo. Bubbles are begetting more bubbles and he's getting frustrated at how many cups of water I'm dunking on his head, which serves him completely right in my mind.

We discuss how it's easier and smarter to start with a tiny amount of things like soap, because it is easy to add more but once it's out of the bottle or tube or whatever then you can't exactly get it back in.

(At some future point, words will be said which will be regretted, and I'm hoping I can remember this bathing experience to tie it all together.) 

We finally get him out relatively soap-free and rethink draining the tub. Those of you who know me well know that I may have a slight addiction to NCIS and therefore Gibbs. Rule number five from Gibbs is "you don't waste good."

"Hey Carrie! Bring Bosley in here!"

Now Carrie can't stop commenting on how soft Bosley is, and we have one sweet smelling boy and one sweet smelling dog.

Don't even ask about the resident Newfoundland. She did not participate in the strawberry bath experience- not because she doesn't need one because she desperately does, more  mainly because our pipes and drains would all take one look at her and abandon our house completely and never you mind the hair catcher over the drain. I envision holes throughout the house where they simply yank themselves out of the walls and take off gimping towards the horizon. She's bringing in so many locust twigs and leaves that if I don't sweep every day the kitchen/hall/dining room look like they're morphing into a forest floor. 

Tonight is bath night again. Perhaps I'll leave the shampoo up high unless I am there to supervise...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Funny calories

Dada was in France for two weeks with a crew from work to do some training and auditing. Some of you know that he's been trying to stay low/no carb because he finds it easier to keep excess weight off if he combines that with a good bit of exercise. 


Then he ends up in France. With friends. With French food. With nice crusty buns that are tasty and soft on the inside. 


We texted about it a little bit and this is part of the conversation about food and portions:

If you'll recall, the "inch of finger" part goes way back to February of last year when I had the flu in a bad way and Zita was recommending some natural, homemade remedies. She meant "ginger" and was hijacked by AutoCorrect. We still use "inch of finger" in normal conversations these days. 

Happily, no flu to report, and a plethora instead of tomatoes and basil. Lunch for me sometimes looks like this:

I could eat it every day. Let me know if you want tomatoes, especially teeny tiny ones. It's not fair for only the fruit flies and myself to be enjoying them!

Carrie finds a new favorite

Dada and I have known about the adorable art shop downtown for awhile, but we only recently took Carrie in to check it out. Predictably, she was scurrying from end to end and back again, flapping her hands in excitement, and cooing over many of the supplies she could test out. I think it's safe to say her Christmas wish list might have gotten a bit longer.

She was delighted that there was an entire room just of canvases. She found pens that she wanted and shelves of sketch pads and paints in all kinds of glorious colors... yep, she is her mother's daughter. If you need gift ideas for her, just let me know how much you'd like the gift card to be. 

Triskal got a puppy...

Triskal turned 11.75 on the fifteenth of September. We figured any Newfie that lives to be that old deserves their own puppy. So we chatted up a local rescue and found this crazy dingbat. Meet Bosley Underfoot. 

He must be related to me as he follows the sunny spots around the house. Muggin and Zita can sympathize.

He is supposedly an Australian shepherd/lab mix. I'm leaning more towards shepherd mix. He has four white feet, white on the tip of his tail and under his chin, black on top and tan accents, including the adorable, irresistible dotty eyebrows. 

*Dang it, I wrote this whole thing and it poofed! Gah!*

He's supposed to be a medium-sized dog when he's fully grown, but for now he's about 20 pounds of spry energy. He antelopes and pops up and chases everything that moves. He hoovers the entire floor, which is quite a change from Triskal who just can't be bothered for anything smaller than a Cheerio or an apple slice. I am pretty sure he's also related to Betsy, Hinrew and Muggin's previous dog, who was always on high alert and never missed so much as a speck of powdered sugar. 

He's gotten pretty good at "sit" and is working on "stay" and hears an awful lot of "leave it" which means my master plan to teach the kids to clean up after themselves is in full swing. No better enforcer than a teething puppy to teach "don't leave your stuff in gnawing distance". He's helped himself to a pair of Carrie's earbuds which were not completely enclosed in her backpack, several tasseled hoodie and backpack pulls, Grandmama's slippers and yard shoes when she was here visiting, a refrigerator magnet (I don't think he ate any, but he certainly enjoyed chewing it to pieces), and the towels we use to wipe the dogs' feet when they enter the house. He will sit for this process but isn't sure yet if he likes it.

It's funny to bring them both in from outside because Triskal is old and plods along, knowing the routine and the expectations. We've often joked that she should wear one of those slow moving vehicle triangles. Poor Bosley is just about beside himself literally because he's so quickly darting from one end of the deck to the other and back so that we will let him in and not forget him. I keep doing the routine with her first so he can see what is expected, but that doesn't mean he doesn't try to make a mad dash for her dish every chance he gets. He is most definitely food motivated and must have a Hoover in his family history somewhere. 

Come on over for your puppy fix! I'm sure there will be more stories to come featuring this new crazy cutie. 

Visions from yesterday

If you dislike bugs, feel free to skip down to the tree photo and pick up the conversation there. 

I spotted this fascinating guy on the railing of the deck out back yesterday during my lunch. I was afraid to get too close as I had no idea what kind of bug he was and I didn't want to be attacked. The yellowjackets swarming around all our fallen apples and walnuts were bad enough. 

He didn't move when I poked him with the tip of my knife, so I assumed he was dead and turned him around to get a better look. I texted Dada who proclaimed, "it's a flying triceratops!"

I think he might be right.

He's really cool looking, though, from that spiky armor to the long probiscous that was wrapped around his leg. He looks like he sat on a stink bug (more power to ya, buddy). He's about two inches long and I've never seen one like that around here before. Any ideas, internet?

And then there are our trees. I think I've mentioned previously how we have just about every kind of tree which can make a mess here on the property. We have apple trees, black walnut trees (below), pine trees which are tossing both pinecones and needles down at us, Buckeye trees, locust trees that pitch sharp and thorny branches down as well as a bajillion tiny leaves that stick to the dogs until they're inside, and even one Osage orange tree that launches those spider-repelling balls that are green and wrinkly and stinky and don't ever let your dog eat them unless you're trying to induce vomiting and even then I wouldn't recommend them... 

Look at all those walnuts! And we've already picked up a gajillion! Anyone want black walnuts? You may come claim as many as you're willing to carry away! Help yourself!

Work in progress

We've been in school for a good six weeks now. Interim grades have already come out. I'm back in the classroom, being read to by second graders and will start with first graders next week because Damon's old teacher could use the extra hands. The excitement of the beginning of the year has worn off and some of us have settled into the schedule a little better than others. Some mornings are fine. By Friday, some of us are not so fine and could use some... oh... I don't know... fire ants, perhaps, to get us moving more quickly.

The big kids don't have much homework to show as everything is accomplished online or in class. However, I get gems like these from our second grader:

The boys despise writing. I relish their completed assignments because they're often so funny and so matter-of-fact. 

The picture immediately above translates to, "I like SkyZone because it is literally all trampolines." I like his version way better. I especially love the self portrait of him jumping off the walls, which you can do at SkyZone as it is, literally all trampolines on the floor and walls.

The first of the papers completely cracked me (and Zita) up, though. My first thought was, "oh my stars, this is the kid who has to write an essay as part of his black belt testing this spring!" Granted, it's an age appropriate task and they are not expecting Moby Dick from a not-yet-8-year-old. I told Zita my fear and she reassured me through her giggles that he'd only need about 5 sentences and that one of them, giggling harder, would be, "I have other things to do." It very well might, at that. 

At any rate, when y'all ask about how school is going, this ought to give you a pretty accurate picture! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

First time grappling for Damon

We've decided to take a break from weapons for this karate cycle and spent some time grappling on Saturday morning. Mr. Stanford was very impressed with Damon's attempts as it was his first official grappling class. He said, "he's doing very well! Each time I head over to tell him to do something, he's already doing it!" It made me grin as I confessed that he may, perhaps a time or two, has grappled at home with Dada...

The night before...

Believe it or not, these costume pieces were actually in one of Carrie's new classrooms at the high school. Of course the boys were magnetized straight to them, to the glee and delight of her teacher and to the consternation of their parents. Now the boys can't wait to get to high school. 

And of course we had to "be bad" one final time, so a trip to Lola's was arranged. Here they are, never going to be able to sleep due to excitement for the first day OR the sugar rush...

First day of school

Naturally, this kid guessed close enough to how many Skittles were in the jar during open house that he got to bring them home. I'd say that's a win for a first day!

Here they are, after Day One, no worse for wear.

First day of second grade

Not really sure where the time has gone, but this little bugger is a second grader. As has been the case thus far, he whined and moaned the fact that he had to start a new grade. He consistently desires to return to whichever grade he just left. However, now that we have 16 or so days under his belt, he is doing just fine and loves his teacher.

Bring on the terrible twos second grade!

AND for what was probably the second time ever, he has his own pair of brand new shoes instead of a pair from a big kid!

Giving fair warning

This seems to be Liam's go-to shirt for Mondays as well as what he wore the first day of school. As always, you can click on the picture to see it in a larger window, the better to read all the captions to the emojis. I think I'll have to pry this garment off of his body personally in able to pass it along to the next kid in line...