Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Busy summer days.

What a beautiful morning today. I think it was right around 50 degrees when I stepped outside to take Sam to school this morning. It was a little chilly, but the sun was shining and the birds were singing. A perfect summer morning. Except that part about having to get up with the alarm clock. But at least the reward of the world saying "good morning" was worth it.

We've been pretty busy around here these past few days. Translation: I've been falling into bed at night, exhausted and with sore muscles from lots of physical activity.

I'm rebuilding our front deck.

Wait. That makes it sound like the deck fell apart. It didn't. Well, not completely. Some of the spindles had fallen off the railing and they were too warped to screw back on. The railing itself was a little wobbly, though I'm sure it hadn't reached safety hazard status yet. Some of the deck boards were splitting or peeling.

It was just plain old and ugly and I wanted a change.

So with the help of a friend (and at times, my children), I dismantled the deck and we are now in the process of rebuilding it. Instead of a new railing, we're building steps running the length of each side. So far we've replaced the top surface of the deck and we have the steps off the front. I love it already. It's amazing what a little spiffing up can do to completely change the look of our home. I'll post pictures when we're done, or at least closer to being done.

In the midst of all this, Steve is pulling up stakes and moving camp. He and his crew are leaving Pennsylvania this week and heading to West Virginia. We're not sure at this point what it means for the holiday weekend and whether he will get a chance to come home, but I'm excited about the opportunity to see another new place when the kids and I go out there to visit him again. I do hope he gets a chance to come home soon, though; if I keep finding things to do to keep me busy while Steve is gone he might not recognize the place when he finally sees it again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A good-for-nothing day.

What I mean to say is it's one of those days good for doing nothing.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

I love Saturday mornings when I wake up easy. You know those mornings when you just wake up because your body decides you've had enough sleep, and you really have? You wake up feeling rested and not rushed. Quiet, not crazy. No kids fighting over which Saturday morning cartoons they're going to watch (thank you grandma and grandpa). No place to be, nothing on the calendar, no schedule. Plenty of time to stretch, pull on an old t-shirt, and meander around the yard watering the flowers in the morning sun.

I had plans to do a few things outside today, but it's too hot to do any more than sit in the shade with a cold drink. I'm staying inside through the heat of the day and happily using my share of the grid as I run the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, the air conditioner and a fan, and my computer for some tunes to keep me motivated to at least fold the clean laundry.

Oh, and the refrigerator is keeping my beer cold until the sun gets a little lower in the western sky. Then maybe I'll head outside and do a little work in the yard.

Or maybe just sit in the shade and enjoy an easy Saturday afternoon.

Life is good. Happy weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer school.

It's not so bad, apparently.

In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if Sam actually ... *gasp!* ... enjoys going to summer school. He gets out of bed relatively happy in the mornings and every day when I pick him up from school he seems to be in a pretty good mood.

I feel like I'm holding my breath. This isn't what I expected at all. I was certain he would fight me tooth and nail every day. Oh, he has made little comments about not being able to do such-and-such during the day because he has to go to summer school (Eeyore voice, anyone?) but I have a feeling he appreciates the schedule and knowing what to expect out of each day.

One more week.

Then it will be the 4th of July.

Then we'll have nothing to do but chill out for the rest of the summer.

And then in the fall? Middle school. Ack! I'm not going to think about that right now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back to the grind.

Well hello, Monday.

We're back to the usual grind today, whatever that means. Our routines seem to change right around the time they become routine so I don't even know if I'm doing the right thing for a mid-June Monday.

I make a phone call to set up an appointment.

I take a look at the household budget.

I add a couple of items to the Goodwill box.

I think about making a grocery list.

I went to bed early last night with the intent of getting plenty of sleep and hitting the ground running this morning. After I tossed and turned for two hours I got up, wandered around the house, surfed the 'Net for a few minutes, then went back to bed and tossed and turned for a while longer before finally falling to sleep. So much for my good intentions.

The weatherman says we might get some rain this afternoon and that wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit. Rainy afternoons are perfect for napping.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day weekend!

He's a pretty amazing guy, my Stevie.

That about covers it. I adore him. The fact that he stays as involved as possible in our children's lives, even from a distance, makes him that much more precious to me.

He's heading home today for the weekend. Can't wait to see him! His visits home are always too short, but we'll take what we can get.

Happy Father's Day, baby! We love you.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The universe is laughing at me.

Ever feel that way? Just when you think you have it all together, you make one wrong move and the house of cards comes crashing down.

Well that might be a little dramatic for the particular episode I have on my mind, but that's what I get for being a little bit smug. For thinking "Hey, I got this!" too quickly. Because just at the moment when I begin to believe I have it all under control, that's when God likes to show me He still has a sense of humor.

Let's see if I can boil this down into a Reader's Digest version ...

I've been allowing my inner princess to make an appearance lately. She whines that her laptop has seen better days. She boo-hoos that the battery doesn't hold a charge at all anymore and the computer overheats to the point of shutting down regularly. A fan, you say? Well I have a fan. It's broken. Sort of. The fan works, but it's cantankerous. It has to be plugged into the USB port just so. And the stand that is supposed to prop the fan and laptop up so the air can circulate is broken, so the whole thing - laptop (plugged in), fan and all - is balancing precariously on the broken stand and leaning against the wall behind my desk.

Occasionally I bump it and the whole thing slides down and crushes the fan and I get this "RRRAARRRAARRRAARRR" from beneath the computer before the fan stops altogether. It's maddening.

Hence, the whiny princess. "I need a new computer, baby!"

My sweet, adoring husband just smiles at me. God, however, has apparently decided to use the appearance of the princess as a way to remind me (again) of the difference between wants and needs. And probably some nonsense about patience.

I want a new laptop.

Know what I need? A working refrigerator.

Go ahead, guess which one of those two things I don't have today. Mmmhmm.

Oh, it doesn't stop there. I didn't just walk into the kitchen grumbling about my computer, open the fridge and pour myself a glass of milk which turned out to be lukewarm. No, that's not all. It gets better.

I checked all the seals on the doors. I made sure the temperature knobs were set appropriately. I moved around some of the food to make sure there was proper airflow. But when I saw the back panel of the freezer I knew exactly what was wrong. The darn thing wasn't defrosting.

"Hey, I got this!"

The same thing happened a few years ago and it was an easy fix to replace the little defroster heater. Piece o' cake. Relatively inexpensive, too.

This is where I started to feel a little smug. I'm such a little smartypants! I'll have this fixed in no time, all by myself! I am woman, hear me roar!

I hopped on-line (thanks to that lovely workhorse of a computer) and ordered the part.

The wrong part.

The wrong part!

Yup. The moment I saw it I knew what I had done and my hopes for getting the freezer put back together relatively quickly were crushed.

Laugh? Cry? Shout expletives?

YES! But mostly I laughed.

I went back to my computer - my one and only, the one I love, the one that is quirky but still works - got back on-line and processed a return and ordered the right part.

And then I stuffed that princess back into her little box and duct taped it shut.

Now here I sit, waiting for the friendly FedEx man. Again.

And quite humbly, I might add.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off to the races!

OK, these are the last of the pictures I took while we were visiting Pennsylvania last week.

And oh, they are lovely.

I tried to crop out as many rednecks as I could, but it's awfully difficult when the pictures are taken at the dirt track races. This is about as down-home as it gets, and y'all? That's why we love it!

It wasn't until we walked in and sat down that I realized how much I miss watching these races. Steve and I used to go watch some friends race on the dirt track ... oh ... AGES ago, and there is nothing like sitting there under the lights, dirt flying, watching those cars slide around each turn.

It's loud. It's fast. It's dirty. And it's fun. What more could you ask for?

It might as well say "Welcome to The Middle of Nowhere." Seriously.

Rachel's first trip to the races. She loved it. She loved it so much I think I see a Powder Puff driver in our future.

Drive fast, turn left. Rinse. Repeat.

My new favorites: the 4-cylinder class. Cavaliers, Neons, Sunfires. I could totally do that! And they're fun to watch and listen to.

 Best. Slogan. Ever.
If I were a race car driver I would so want this business to be one of my sponsors.

Me and my baby.

I wish I had a good picture of Sammy from that night, but in the only one I have of him he has a mouth full of Sixlets. I didn't post it because I try not to intentionally embarrass him these days, lest bad parental karma come back to bite me.

Oh wait. I have a group shot that includes him but I can't post that until I confirm nobody from our group is in the Witness Protection Program. Don't hold your breath.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yellow Creek State Park, Penn Run, PA

I learned, thanks to the Internet, that the reason Yellow Creek is called such is because there is a lot of yellow clay in the banks and on the bottom of the creek.

OK then.

I also learned during the time we visited Penn Run, PA (which I just love to say because it rolls off the tongue quite nicely ... Penn Run, PA, Penn Run, PA ...), and its pretty little state park that everyone in my family has been spoiled by growing up in Western Michigan, close enough to Lake Michigan and its beautiful sandy beaches to spend every summer day there if we so choose.

I'm sorry, Penn Run, PA, but Ludington, MI, has a nicer state park. Neener neener neener.

Just kidding. I mean about the neener neener thing. We really do have a nicer state park, but yours is quite beautiful and serves its purpose just fine and dandy. Swimming, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, picnicking. All that good stuff can be done in Penn Run just as well as in Ludington. But - and this is a huge BUT - there are no sand dunes. Rocky cliffs, maybe. Beautiful hillsides, yes. But no sand dunes.

There is this, though:
Gorgeous scenery, no?
What's that stuff at the edge of the water, you say? I wondered that myself when we first arrived. And then a little way down from where we sat, I saw this:
Just posting this photo makes me chuckle all over again. There were no geese anywhere to be seen in the beach area that day, but there was plenty of goose poo on the beach and in the grass. So my question is this: are they trying to keep the geese off the beach? Or out of the water? If anybody knows, feel free to enlighten me. Even the kids said, "Don't they know the geese can just fly over the fence?" Heh.

It's not the sandy beach we're used to, but I actually like the expanse of green grass leading to the water. Less sand in my vehicle that way.

It was rather breezy and cool the day we visited the state park, so the kids just waded in the water. This is one of those "caption this" photos. Can't you just hear Sam saying, "Come on, Rachel! It's not that cold!" and her stomping her foot and responding, "then you get wet!" 

This is as far as I went in. 

And I think that satisfies my quota for bare feet photos for the summer.


Monday, June 14, 2010

One big family.

The kids and I spent last week with an interesting mix of folks from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, my immediate family being the only true Yankees in the bunch. Steve's job is in Pennsylvania but the guys on the crew - at least the ones I got to know - are from Virginia and Tennessee. I heard a lot of "hellfire!" and "I don't reckon" and all kinds of one-liners that kept me chuckling and by the end of the week had bled into my own repertoire.

We had a great week overall, and while I was more than ready to get home and back to my own bed and all my other creature comforts, I was a little bit sad to leave that beautiful place and that group of folks who have become like family. It does a mama's heart good to know her man is doing OK and that he has a few strong, honest buddies watching his back while he's so far away from home. They work together and play together. They eat dinner together, drink beer together, talk shop together, and generally have a good ol' time. And when it comes to the wives and children of any of them, we are all considered an extension of their big, happy family. These guys will feed you, drive you, offer to pick something up from the store for you, call you ma'am (which I don't mind in the least), offer you their seat, and treat your kids the same way, too. I think they can only temper their language so much - they are pipeliners, after all, and a pipeliner can just about make a sailor blush - but they respect the children and at least keep their cussin' to a minimum when we're around. I can appreciate that.

Here's a little glimpse at our week in Penn Run, PA.

Four people. Twenty-four feet of trailer. Insanity, anyone? It's still better than a hotel.

My little Pinky.

Sammy, always trying new tricks.

Giant rocks in Yellow Creek. Which was actually kinda' brown from all the rain. I'm guessing it's not really yellow. I don't know how it got that name.

The bridge. It's toward the back of the campground and leads to an island between the river and a smaller creek. The kids liked to hang out there and skip rocks. And there is no shortage of rocks here, lemme tell ya'.

More tomorrow.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Clean Slate Sunday: The post-vacation edition

I feel like I have about a dozen little yappy dogs all around me nipping at my ankles and vying for attention. Each one of them represents something I need to do - finish unpacking from our trip, start laundry, figure out what we're having for dinner, mow the weeds. But they're all just going to have to wait because I'm tired and it's hot and humid and I really just need some time to breathe.

I did at least pick up a few groceries this afternoon. And I am going to mow at least a little bit in the front yard. But dinner is going to be something quick and easy, and bedtime is going to be rather early for all of us. We pulled in last night a little after 11:30, and of course it took me a while to wind down after being all jacked up on caffeine to make the trip home from Pennsylvania. I don't think I'll have any trouble getting to sleep tonight.

Sam starts summer school tomorrow. He is not even remotely into it. Can't say I blame him.

I've got lots to write about. I didn't take my computer on vacation with me and there were several times when I just craved the keyboard and a creative outlet for everything that was buzzing around in my head. I'll share some stories and pictures over the next few days. For now I'm just so glad to be home and back in familiar surroundings.

Let the unpacking commence.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And so it begins ...

School is out. Summer has begun. Today - if we can ever get ready - the children and I will be on our way to Pennsylvania for a week of vacation with Steve.

The house seems to be waking up in slow motion. We're all out of bed, but not moving very fast. Normally this would annoy me, but this morning I relish the fact that we don't need to hurry. We are not on a schedule.

Oh, I'm excited to see Steve, but it's a long drive and when you're talking about nine hours on the road, getting there an hour or two later than I had planned isn't really that big of a deal, relatively speaking.

I better finish packing.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's never too early for a swim.

The pool isn't quite crystal clear yet.

The water temperature only reached 73 degrees yesterday.

The floaty rings and beach ball still needed some air.

But it is never, ever too early for my kids to jump in the pool like they did yesterday afternoon.

Helloooo, summer!

Oh, did I say that already?

I'm just a little excited.

Obviously.

School's out tomorrow! Wahoo!