Saturday, August 31, 2013

Backyard Board Game

 We've had such a nice summer, here in Oregon. Long, lovely, warm days full of sunshine for playing outside in. Since we didn't get much of a summer last year (or the year before, come to think of it), it's been wonderful to be able to send the kids outside to play. Of course, more often than not, I end up outside too. There's nowhere I like better to be than outside. (Let me see if I can use the word "outside" a few more times. WHAT A GREAT WRITER)

 One morning last week, I drew a game board on the back patio with chalk. James has a couple sets of giant dice, so we borrowed one, and the kids and I made up a game. We took turns rolling the die and walking (hopping, skipping, etc...) that number of spaces on our board. Then I would come up with a crazy thing for the kids to do, or they'd come up with a crazy thing for me to do.

 For example: "Run to the arbor, pick a grape and eat it. Then put your hand over your heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance".

 or: "Go stand under the apple tree and sing, 'Sing, Sweet Nightingale'"

 or: "Run back and forth between the fences while counting to twenty five

 or: "Pick a flower and use it as a microphone while you belt out your favorite Weird Al song" (The selection was "Eat It")

For the record, they made me turn a cartwheel (ow), walk backward around the yard, holler "Yooooohoooooooo!" into our fairy house, and a host of other amazing things. It was a pretty hysterical morning. I'm sure our neighbors got QUITE a show, if any of them were watching.

We played until we all got to the star, and then we went in for lunch. I came in second place, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Time For A Project

 I have this weird little partial wall in my kitchen that I've never quite known what to do with, decor-wise. I've used it to hang home-school stuff on. It has hosted high chairs, when we had babies. I've hung various things on it, but nothing has really lasted. I've been mulling over a big statement piece, and I decided to go for it, using some scrap wood and paint I already had. What's there to lose, right?


I had this paneling left over from my bathroom re-do, so I put it together and reinforced it with some pieces going cross-wise on the back. I stuck them on with wood glue (which got messy - I made a couple of mistakes. Oh well, you don't see the back), and then, once that was dry, I used very small nails to secure the whole thing together.

I painted the panel blue (with a little green on the bottom), and then I cut letters out of tape (which also happened to be blue). If you decide to do this, you should probably use pre-made letters, because this part was time consuming. If I were a thinking woman, I'd have gotten some peel-and-stick letters, buuuuuuuut I did it this way instead. 

Once the letters were stuck on, I spray painted over everything with some yellow spray paint that I had left over from painting the bench in my kitchen. Once it was dry, I peeled off the tape letters, and then I sanded the whole thing down with my palm sander until I liked how worn it looked.

Then I hung it up.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kansas, Installment 7: Great Grandmothers, Great Aunts, and Saying Goodbye

We spent our last stretch of days at my dear in-laws' house in Kansas City. The kids got to spend some time with their only cousins (well, first cousins. I guess they have tons of second and third cousins.) a couple of times, including at a special get together we had. James's grandmothers came over from Missouri to spend the day with us, along with a passel of other Missouri relatives (Aunt Caroline, Cousin Dana, and her kids, Caleb, and Olivia, who played all morning with my kids and were rewarded with instant adoration and hero worship) an aunt from Florida (Jane!), an aunt from Kansas City (Libby! No party is complete without Lib!), and my sister-in-law, Lucy, with the aforementioned kiddos (Connor and Eva). Clear as mud? It was a lot of people. James was feeling under the weather that day, so we didn't see him much, but he made it out a little later. We had lovely conversation, went over old family photos, watched the children play, caught up on each others' lives, and had a really nice time.

This family welcomed me into their fold almost twelve years ago when James and I got married. All the horror stories one hears about in-laws - the feelings of exclusion and judgement and awfulness - I genuinely don't have any of that. They've never made me feel "not good enough" for James - not one time. Every family has its quirks, sure, and we're all a band of weirdos. I'm rather fond of these weirdos though, and I get the feeling they are rather fond of me, which is kind of a big deal. I hope I carry that on someday, when my son brings home some bizarre girl with a thousand artsy hobbies and a big heart, who laughs at everything and loves him completely.

Techno dazed cousins.

That's (second? third?) cousin Olivia standing up and Great Grandma Olivia sitting down on the right.

Great Grandma Olivia (Sharrel's mother, left) and Great Granny Doris (Jim's mother, right)

Libby the party animal, on the right

Jane, far left

One of the old photos we looked at . This is my father-in-law as a little boy, crying because his older sister, Martha wouldn't let him on that giant bike. It's one of my favorite photos of him, ever.

"Please do not knock your great grandmothers over. Please."

Great Aunt Jane. She came all the way from Florida to see us. Now THAT is some dedication. Thank you for that, Jane. We love you.

The Weirdos.

And then the time came. I packed up our stuff, checked us in for our flight. Put snacks and crayons and little toys into backpacks. We said our last goodbyes to grandparents and told James, who was going on a road trip with an old friend that we'd see him at home in a week. Jim drove us to the airport, and the kids and I boarded a plane for Oregon.

Kansas, you are lovely. You are always in my heart. You hold my history and my family of origin. You're a touchstone, and I will always come back to you.

Mom, Dad, Jim, Sharrel, siblings, siblings-in-law, nephew, niece, various and sundry other relations, friends, acquaintances, pets - we love you. So much. You know where we are. See you soon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kansas, Installment 6: Friends and Allies

 We focused the majority of our visit on family, of course, but I always like to touch base with old friends when I'm in Kansas as well. I lived there until I got married and moved away, and lots of my besties live in the area, so playdates are always in order for Mama and for the kiddos. In addition to the folks I ran into along the way, (Hi Michelle and Ami and Cory!) we saw my dear Laura and her darling L a couple of times, and we also got a bit of time in with my good friend, Tracy.  We met her and her three sweethearts at an indoor playground for a couple hours of running around and climbing (Well, the kids did that part. It looked exhausting. We mothers sat and chit-chatted, which was fantastic.)

Oh to friendships, old and new!

Kansas, Installment 5: Fishy Fishy Fishy Fish

After our first couple of weeks, James came to join us in Kansas, and we all went out to my in-laws' lake house at Lake Wabaunsee in the Flint Hills. We spent a wonderful weekend fishing, riding on the boat, relaxing, and watching the Perseid Meteor shower from the deck at night. It was lovely.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kansas, Installment 4: Of Malls and Mowing and Family Photos

 We spent our last few days with my parents enjoying every last minute. Mom and I took the kids to the mall in Topeka. We did a little shopping, and we let the kids do all the little kid activities the mall had to offer. It ended up being pretty fun.

 My sister, Emma sat with the kids for a few hours one afternoon, so I could go for a Harley ride with my Dad. The three of them had a buh-LAST, and so did I.

 And my dad took the kids for a ride on the big mower.

We had a wonderful visit, such a sweet and lovely time together. It always hurts to wave goodbye and drive down the road at the end, but James was coming to join us, and we were all more than ready to see him. It was time to reunite, so we packed up our things and away we went to spend a joyful time with my dear in-laws before heading on home to Oregon. Thank you, Mom and Dad, Joey and Denny, Emma and Olivia and Tassi. We love you and miss you always.

We did hook back up with my family once more after James came into town, to take some family photos, and we got this. Isn't it great? I particularly love what my little J-bird decided to do with his glasses, just as the camera began to flash. *sigh* As my dad says (lovingly), "There's one in every crowd." At any rate, I'm very glad to be part of this particular crowd, even if my kid is currently the "one" ;). Love you guys.