Sunday, May 17, 2009

Elliott the Builder!

Evan is going great guns, ripping siding off of our house. We can't think of anything to do with our vast cash reserves, so we're residing portions of the house. (It all started with a simple door replacement. It seemed so innocent!) Elliott is loving helping Daddy with his project. Here was his job Saturday.

Grab a (very light) piece of wood.

Haul it up the ladder.

Throw it in the dumpster.

Wait for appropriate praise.

Smirk, and descend the ladder.

That is some smirk.

Then, since Mommy wasn't having enough of a heart attack watching the dumpster routine, climb Daddy's REALLY tall ladder.

This is the outside wall of the kids' room that Evan is working on right now.

I actually love the old cedar shakes that are under the old aluminum siding.

Aren't they a great color? They are old, though, and most of the point of this project is that we could insulate the walls. Ripping the shakes off makes this easier.

Uncovering LOTS of bees' nests. No wonder I spent our first summer in the house freaking out-- we have an exterminator spray every summer now, keeping me sane.

Rilla got in the climbing spirit.

"Look, Daddy is busy thinking about building and is ignoring the fact I've been climbing in and out of the stroller while Mommy was on her walk!"

We had quite a bit of rain Saturday, so Evan didn't get as much done as he would have liked. The kids sure did enjoy "helping" him, though! It's cool here again today, hard to believe it was so hot in April!

I got a lovely foretaste of the next twenty years this evening. Cheyenne was crying while doing her homework, assigned to her on Friday, of tracing her name on a worksheet. Excuse me, FIVE worksheets with several repetitions of her name on each page! I thought it was just a tad much for a weekend homework, considering the child is in preschool (and already prints her name just fine). Of course, I should have stood over her and made her finish it earlier in the weekend, but I think the things she did all weekend (go on scooter rides while I took a walk, help Evan clean up siding, go to library story hour, play imaginative games for hours on end with her brother, take a snuggly nap with me in between meetings today) were more important than busy work. I know it will only get worse! I love the book, "The Homework Myth" by Alfie Kohn. (He wrote an article for Education Week that is a quick overview of his point).

Elliott made Evan and I laugh today in the car (me in a "I love you, Elliott" way, Evan in a "Wow, here's proof of what I have to live with" way!) Evan was fooling around and braked hard when we entered a speed zone. From the back seat we heard, "Evan! Evan! Evan! Pay attention! Drive careful! I mad at you!" (I truly don't know where the "I mad at you" statement came from, but the rest is spot on!)

My goal tomorrow is to do laundry, and put it away, all on the same day. I don't really have a lot of faith in my ability to meet this goal. In fact, if I get the laundry away before the next wash day I feel like Supermom. Who knows, though, tomorrow may be the day I conquer empires! It would probably help if I went to bed now...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May is Great.

These are the blossoms on our decorative crabapple tree. It blooms for such a short time, but the smell is wonderful. May has a lot going for it, this tree being one of them!

Cheyenne got her prize box from Secret Agent Josephine today! (We're guessing that Bug decorated the box so nicely!)

It was a great prize for a coloring contest-- art supplies! They were packed in a paint can.

Cheyenne LOVES painting, so this was one of her favorite items. There were colored pencils, crayons, jiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, buttons, glitter gel, glue, sparkly butterflies, and lots more... We had to start creating right away!

I set the kids up on a table in my room so I could fold wash while they crafted... but who was I kidding. I was hovering over Cheyenne's shoulder, longing to touch all the cool things.

Elliott watched very intently.

(The quilt you see in the mirror's reflection was one my grandmother, Goldie Brown, sewed. Evan just hung the quilt rack up for me, so I'm loving having a chance to see it all the time. Since I never got to meet her, it's a way to get to "know" her better.)

This paper-bag puppet was the fruit of Cheyenne's labor!

We only used things that were in the prize package-- down to recycling the Starbust (yum!) wrappers for the lips and fangs! This was Cheyenne's first time using pipe cleaners, and she was blown away by their coolness! This puppet had great fun flexing the muscles in his pipe-cleaner arms!

It rained most of the day, but by late afternoon, we had some beautiful sun back. It takes a rainy day for me to realize how much time my kids spend outside (as proven by the farmer's tan Cheyenne is sporting!)

Elliott is seriously this excited about driving his car each and every time he climbs in there. Best birthday present we ever bought, two years ago now! The latest wrinkle is that he'll take the key out (like Mommy and Daddy do) and then not be able to drive the car again until he finds the key. No key, no movement!

Grandpa was visiting for a few days while he worked over this direction, so I posed the girls in their matching outfits from Grandma. She had bought these outfits for the girls last year, but my little peanuts are just fitting in them now!

Elliott had to join in, too!

This is the new front door. Now we only have to side it, and build a porch (oh, yeah, did Evan forget to mention that was part of the plan?) and re-insulate, and... It is a beautiful door, though, and we're loving all the extra light in the entryway!

I'm mired in the special education system this week. The Committee on Preschool Education in our district declared Elliott ineligible for special education preschool. I disagree, not because I don't think Elliott is amazing, but he's not up to speed yet. I know what Cheyenne has done in the "normal" preschool this year, and my little 25-pound boy isn't ready for that yet! I'm trying to educate myself on the various options, and we'll see where it all leads. Anytime I have to do extra work for Elliott, I try to remember what a privilege it is to even have him around to merit the extra work-- he's our miracle boy, and I won't forget that for a long time!

Now, off to bed... or tea and a book!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm a Privileged Mom!

Here is photographic proof that I am the World's Luckiest Mom! If there are three more squinchable children out there, I sure haven't seen them.

Here's me with me baby, who's still small enough that I can eat her toes, and her thighs, and her arms, and her ears, and her little tiny nose... she is a veritable feast!

And here's my baby with my baby sister! Tori and Olivia got to be my babies long before I was a biological mother. It was nice of Mom to have them for my baby pleasure!

My weekend has been one long celebration. Mom came down with the two girls, fairly spur-of-the-moment. Now that she's DONE with college, this is much more possible! We were all very excited about them coming. Even Evan, her favorite son-in-law. (Right, Justin?)

Friday night, I dominated Olivia and Mom in a game of Wordthief. (A common occurence, but it still makes me happy.) Saturday, Olivia and Tori took Elliott and Cheyenne to the library story hour. It's at our tiny little local library. We had never been in that library until this spring, since we had library cards in the much bigger library system to the south of us. Evan was scouring libraries for a specific building book a couple of months ago, though, and he took the kids to the library right at storytime. They've gone several times since, often comprising the entire audience!

Evan's gift to me for Mother's Day was to bankroll my mother and I going out to eat at Bonefish Grill on Saturday! It's the restaurant Evan and I often head to for our anniversary, and I've always though Mom would love it there. I had been thinking how fun it would be to go there with her this weekend, and Evan, completely unprompted, said to me on Friday, "You and your mom should go to Bonefish Grill Saturday." I knew there was a reason I married this man-- he's brilliant! Mom and I blithely set off for lunch, sans children, and we had a wonderful time. The food was excellent, and it was fun getting to talk uninterrupted for a while. After lunch, we strolled through the Joanne Fabrics megastore in that area-- I couldn't believe how much more exciting it was than the usual Joanne Fabrics store I shop at! We were models of fiscal restraint and didn't buy a thing, but I sure know where I'll be going next time I need to buy material! In the meantime, it made me excited about sewing on the ten different projects I already have waiting for me in my sewing cabinet! All in all, we were gone from home for about four hours. In typical Mom fashion, Mom spent a lot of the time agonizing over the fact that "Poor Evan!" was watching the kids, but I just enjoyed myself!

Saturday's pampering didn't end when we come home. International traveler and chef extraordinaire, Olivia Tess, prepared supper! We had pasta a la pesto and Italian sausages. Next time Olivia comes, my herbs will hopefully be bushy enough that we'll be able to make the pesto from scratch! (I have been using, and enjoying, the herbs already!)

Kim came for the afternoon and helped babysit the kids. Rilla loved going down the slide with her.

(Notice the artful shot through the deck rails-- Olivia's talents don't end with high-end Italian cookery-- she also takes fabulous pictures!)

Elliott (wearing his "Asterix" shirt from Rome) was on the go all day!

Cheyenne's day involved lots of dandelions, as you can see by the yellow stain on her cheek. She's also wearing a shirt from Italy-- they were all decked out!

In point of fact, Mother's Day celebrations were underway before the weekend even begun! Cheyenne's class hosted a reception for the mothers Friday morning.

Here they are, preparing to sing the heavily-guarded, top-secret Mother's Day songs they've been practicing! (Cheyenne's buddy Alex is the second boy from Cheyenne's end, in the green, brown and white striped shirt!)

Cheyenne with some of my presents. We were each given a marigold flower in a little pot, a handprint, a teabag in a little paper teacup, and a book they made about us. According to Cheyenne, I am 20 feet tall, love to read but hate to get out of bed, drink water and eat spaghetti! (I think she got her parents switched on that last one!)

Ice cream sundaes, with beautiful napkins!

Ice cream!

Connor was there, too, Alex's little brother. I've started watching Connor Thursday mornings so his mom can volunteer at the school. Since she gives Cheyenne a ride to school every day, I'm happy to finally be able to repay the favor somewhat!

Of course, since the weekend wasn't busy enough, Evan did a Large Project.

We used to have a front door here, not just a giant hole in the exterior of the house.

This was the little window beside the door. We've lost most of the classy appeal of our house with its removal! (Hey, I should do a giveway, like all the Cool Kids' blogs-- whoever wants this window can just leave a comment! The only catch is, you have to come see us some weekend to pick it up! :-) The new door looks fantastic, and actually works the way it's supposed to. I didn't get a picture of that yet, I'll wait till Evan gets done with the trimwork. It lets SO much more light into our entryway, we all keep looking down the stairs and thinking, "Oh, someone left the door open!" The problem with this beautiful new door is that the financial cost doesn't end with purchasing a nice door, and the seperate storm door. Oh, no. To change out the door, Evan had to remove some siding. Well, since we've always meant to replace the hideous "rock" on the front of our house with decent siding, he just went ahead and tore it all off. While that's all off, we should go ahead and insulate that section-- and probably replace the family room window. And, hey, the new siding is going to look pretty silly next to all that old stuff, huh? We probably should just re-side (and insulate) the whole house while we're at it. Hmm... the new trim around the door in the entryway certainly looks nice-- we should make the other trim all match. And the wainscoting should be changed out to the new style.

And on it goes! By the end of this, we'll be $20,000 in debt, but we'll have a gorgeous house. If anyone knows of any banks where they're lax about security, please forward me their address and pertinent information.

Even though Dad was too busy with farm work to come down this weekend, I did get to see him this week, when he drove this beauty up from West Virginia. (Dad doesn't like this picture-- he says it gives the "wrong impression" with the hood up like that! So, for the record, he was just checking the oil in this photo!)

It's gotta be good with a name like that.

I was actually drooling over this truck, with all it's storage compartments. Dad does occasional plumbing jobs, so this will be very useful-- he'll be able to store his plumbing supplies in here, rather than having to re-assemble them from all over the farm every job.

"Dad, don't kill the truck-- I like it!" See, Dad, you WERE trying to fix something! (With our paltry collection of mechanic tools, he was trying to use a pry bar that was WAY too long!)

So that is the news from this lovely week. And for an historical component, it is 21 years ago today that Mom and Dad bought the farm with my Uncle Scott and Aunt Geri (who have since moved on to the Great Plains!) It was quite the change for a little Delaware girl to have 400 acres and 60 cows-- wouldn't have traded a farm upbringing for anything!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's All Cody's Fault, Actually...

I've decided it's all Cody's fault that I haven't been updating my blog. Back when he was putting in the miles walking across the country, I had to get on my blog to update everyone on his progress. While I was sitting on the computer doing that, I would just put up a post on our family blog. Now that I'm just blogging about us Whites, I'm LAZY! Except it's not my fault, it's Cody's fault.

On the subject of Cody, he stopped by here on his way to Minnesota.

The kids enjoyed seeing him.

Cheyenne enjoyed seeing him, too, but she was too busy being a princess in a tower to pose with him. (Or maybe the DOLL was the princess-- the games all blur together in my mind.)

We totally treat Cody like company, as you can see by my house.

The kids posing on the motorcycle. Cheyenne is pouting because it is a group shot and not the glamorous solo picture she was envisioning when she climbed up there.

Rilla liked it.

A slightly happier Cheyenne, holding onto Rilla, who would not get off!

An artisanal motorcycle luggage rack, created by Cody and Justin. It incorporates hames from a horse harness, a horse shoe, chains, and more.

All welded together.

And, my favorite part, all braced with wrenches!

Elliott played the part of the patriot with Cody's flag while Cody got all geared up for the upcoming rain storm.

Cheyenne played the part of "Silly Girl". What is it with my girls and their tongues?

Cody, ready to hit the (long) road to Minnesota.

Last weekend, we headed out to Dana and Marilyn's to help Mammy and Aunt Diana pack. They are moving into a new house-- the first newly constructed house Mammy has ever lived in! It was lots of fun for me, since there were lots of guys to do the heavy lifting...

And cousins to play with Elliott and Cheyenne. Maggie is holding Elliott here. Taylor kept Cheyenne occupied walking their little dogs. Cheyenne was thrilled with the whole dog thing-- she now walks her stuffed giraffe around on a leash. Not sure why the giraffe got the starring role in the Dog Story, but that's the way it is!

Jennifer cooked a yummy meal to keep everyone going...

And Marilyn, Aunt Diana, Auntie Bea and Mammy set the rooms up as fast as the men carried in the furniture!

A nice sitting area in their daylight basement.

Caleb and David Weaver were on hand to help out.

Here's what the guys found in the back of the dryer! A little mouse that had committed hari-kari on the electrical wires somehow! Very gross but intriguing.

I went nuts with the camera Sunday morning. Dana has such beautiful landscaping at their place, with lots of places that beg for little kids to sit while I take their picture. Well, I could hear them beg... not sure Evan could.

Cheyenne on the swing.


All three kiddos. I love Marilla's hands on her cheeks.

Here's where I told the kids to "snuggle in to Marilla." Elliott went for the full-on hug.

She has truly edible feet.

Believe me, I'm being restrained and not putting all the pictures up. But how could I stop when the grass was so green, and her hair was so curly?

I'm hoping that's not really something going in her mouth. Dana had just fertilized the beds with goat dung from the neighboring farm, so the "ick!" factor could be fairly high.

Sitting next to Mommy on a stone bench.

No modesty, that child.

This is Marilla getting her fish kiss ready to return Mommy's kiss.

None of the family pictures came out great, but it has been six months since our last one-- I'll post the least worst one.

Focusing on the prima donna.

I hadn't noticed the fence post and barbed wire there when I posed the kids earlier-- maybe because they were shorter so it didn't show up. Anyway, it adds a certain something-something to the picture, don't you think?

Dana and Marilyn, the Grandparents with the Mostest.

Daddy and his kids.


And Elliott.

And Elliott. (I like taking pictures of this kid.) This was yesterday, during his marathon sandbox period. His fashion sense is impeccable. He's obsessed with that hat right now, but he doesn't like the brim obstructing his vision, so it's worn at this jaunty angle. Most of the day, he was wearing sunglasses, too, which really upped the coolness factor.

Evan kept busy yesterday, replacing the back door of our house. In this picture, he had already taken off the storm door. There was no sill to speak of between the two doors-- weeds poked up through. It was terribly drafty in the winter, and ugly.

The spiffy new version, wrapped in aluminum. (Evan got to use his aluminum break!) The sandstone pavers aren't exactly where they're going to go, but it was 8:00 p.m. by this point, so they're good enough!

One of my "fun" little projects lately. This picture doesn't even do it justice, but my guest bed was covered in all the outgrown/winter clothes for the whole family. We're talking a LOT of clothes. I finally finished packing up the winter coats, boots, hats, gloves, etc. Saturday, and that was four Rubbermaid containers full! I now have all the kids' summer clothes out, and I'm just working through putting the old clothes away, and getting the e-bay/Salvation Army things figured out.

This project was definitely more fun! I took the plunge and planted a container of herbs, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I have NO experience doing this, so I probably did it all wrong (you gardening people are saying, "GAK! She didn't REALLY put them in there that way!") but it's done and it makes me happy! I planted basil, sage, rosemary, greek oregano, mint, and lavendar.

Rilla stayed happy Saturday with her own project-- driving her father nuts with the corn-popper! I bought it at a garage sale for Elliott two years ago, and Evan thinks I'm certifiable for willingly bringing it into my house. He claims it's the kind of toy you give your sisters' kids or something, but never your own kids! I would rather listen to obnoxious toys than unhappy kids, though, and this keeps them happy for hours. Elliott used to be terrified of the vacuum, but once he had this to pretend he was vacuuming, he got over it. I had put the corn-popper away once Elliott got the little vacuum for his birthday, but I thought Rilla was at an age she would really enjoy it! I've made it an outside toy now so Evan doesn't have to listen to it constantly!

And that's (most) of the news from our happy little corner of the world!