Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Big Holiday OOPS!

It has been awhile. We know. Why? Because Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band have been b-u-s-y!

  For starters..Miss Applesauce Pants has been moonlighting during the past month for a Christmas Musical at the local prison. Meaning? The entire exploding diaper band has been helping her run lines and learn her music!

Blue Monkey truly believed the Christmas Musical was RUINED without playing The Wheels On the Bus...but he was outvoted...and the musical went on without his favourite song. This did NOT sit well with Blue Monkey.

Black Rat has been very busy with art work..specifically chalk art and puppetry. Therefore she has only joined practices when absolutely necessary.

..and Bug? Well Bug has mastered the art of melodramatic whining and tantrumming. It has not been pleasant, let me tell you.

The band has, however, maintained their weekly fishing venture and are still at war with the Chinese Fish aka the BIG CATFISH!!! They have also managed to make it to the weekly Park/Library Day with the homeschoolers...and this is where the bands latest OOPS began.

There were rumours of a Christmas Party..but where, oh where?

Miss Applesauce and the Exploding Diaper Band agreed to host the party at their house. The homeschooling families all agreed. And so a date was set...and the excitement with the band members began to grow. The band would make pie and cookies..Oh..and Irish Stew! They would play a concert for the families.

The band  began to practice..Merry Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, The Wheels on the Bus, Love Shack (because How? AsksBlue Monkey, could we have a concert without Love Shack?)...and Old Mac Donald. Even Black Rat began to join in on rehearsals.

Here Bug plays with the knob of the keyboard looking for LOVE SHACK.

Then. Well..things happened. First Big B quit his job!! All of a sudden, Big B was around a LOT..and so were some of his friends. And Big B and his friends are just fun to play with. They like things like wrestling, and pillow fights..and let's face it, things were just too exciting for practice.

Also? There were customers needing cars fixed, the band had to remember their manners and offer people tea and  (gasp) they had to stay  IN THE YARD, ON THE DECK or INSIDE..for safety..or some other such nonsense. The band wanted in the garage SO BAD. So there was a week of plots and plans to try and move rehearsals to the garage. But Miss Applesauce Pants AND Big B said NO WAY.

Miss Applesauce Pants had planned a vacation JUST BEFORE THE PARTY. She had planned to spend a couple days at the beach with some friends. She cancelled the trip..but she still pretended to be on vacation.

When Austen and his friends came over..she just did nothing. And when Cody came home? She did nothing. Miss Applesauce Pants figured if she was at the beach she would not be cooking, or cleaning or anything else..and so she did not. Also? She did not practice with the diaper band because (ahem) they still thought she was on vacation.

Luckily..the BIG BOYS..helped out around the house even with mom on vacation. Here Cody plays with Bug. Bug is SO EXCITED to have him home..and Cody? Cody is Bug sticks his fingers up Cody's nose.

..and so yesterday, everyone was finally back in motion.

Miss Applesauce Pants took the band to the library since they had missed on Monday..with you know..the vacation and all.  The band was thinking about cleaning..after all..the legos and dolls were EVERYWHERE. Instruments were in every room of the house. Markers and crayons were hidden in strange places. But the Bug was doing his whining thing. Miss Applesauce Pants and the band decided to take the Bug for a ride in the car (so maybe he would go to sleep)..but first? Miss Applesauce Pants had to go to the restroom.

And this is when things get really weird.

Miss Applesauce Pants is in the bathroom when she hears Blue Monkey calling her. At first she ignores him..because sometimes? Blue Monkey and the Band just like to visit her when she is in the bathroom. Miss Applesauce does NOT appreciate this.

Blue Monkey called her again...and then Miss Appleauce screamed...(not very nicely) Blue have GOT to stop that I'm in the Bathroom. I'll be right out. Then she hears. Miss Applesauce, Miss Applesauce?..and she comes unglued...I'M IN THE BATHROOM!!!! Please..I'll be right out. YOU HAVE TO QUIT CALLING ME WHEN I'M IN HERE...and then she said lots of other things I will not print here.

..and when she walked out..the living room was full of moms and kids for the homeschool Christmas Party. OOPS?!?! Miss Applesauce and the exploding Diaper Band had FORGOTTEN the PARTY!!!

But absolute embarrassment aside? Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band had a great time at the Christmas Party...and all Miss Applesauce Pants could think was..

thank God for Potlucks!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wes Cooksey

It has been a few weeks since Big B and I loaded two boys in the RV and met our friends, Jack and Rhonda at Wes Cooksey State Park (here in Tejas).

So, a little late. But thought I would share a few pics from a long-overdue mini-vacation.

Cody finds a sunny spot to study..or sleep..or day-dream.

Big B says Hurry. Get a picture of our dam kid. So here is that Austen boy. Walking the dam.

Big B and Austen.

The Boys leave us Saturday afternoon, after Austen grills us steak! 

We play Monkey Golf with Jack and Rhonda. They smoked us!

Jack lights a lantern as we prepare for an evening of guitar playing, tequila sipping ( was a sipping tequila) and hanging out around a campfire. I think I might have sipped fast....

...but man did we have fun.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Table.

I have found it.

The ideal dining room table. Not only is this table an ideal...but it is sitting in my dining room as I type! How cool is that?

But first let me tell you how this begins. Some of my earliest memories are sitting around the dining room table as a child. I used this table (one built by my grandpa..none-the-less) for homework. I used the table as a hide-out. We often had dinner guests. The dining room table..and the discussions that went with it, were the backdrop of my childhood.

When Big B and I got married we agreed (and still agree) on very little. But what we did (and still do) agree on the importance of gathering around the table.

That said. We have gone through a slew of tables in our 21 years of marriage. Sort of like the three bears. This table is too big...this table is too small....and so we look for the one that is just right.
We look at yard sales, we talk about building one. We know we cannot afford the tables we like. What we want is a long, narrow, sturdy the one my grandpa built. That will seat 10-12 comfortably. Because even though we only have 4 living at home? We usually have 6-20 for dinner. Because THAT is the way we roll.

And then, last Friday, out of parents ask..would you like the dining room table that Papa Jim built? They are scaling down. They don't want me to take it if I don't want it..but could I use it?

Yes, yes and double yes!

Are you sure? they ask. Again with the Yes, yes, YES!

We bring it home on Sunday. The VanBibbers come to help us "break it in". (The kids couldn't wait for us to sit..they were starved, apparently)
We use it for co-op and day-care. And what do you know? We have elbow room:)

We visit with friends..over wine, beer, tea and sodas as we wait for

Community Dining!!!!

So YES! Thank you Mom and Dad for instilling in me the value of gathering around the table.

Friday, October 21, 2011



That is how I feel.

Not over-exhausted. Not worn out. Just depleted of all energy.

It has been almost two weeks since the Kairos weekend. I have NO idea why it is taking me so long to recover. Maybe it is because I had way overextended myself in the weeks leading to it. Maybe it is because I had way overextended myself in the weeks after.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad I did it, Kairos that is. I'm just realizing that my recharge battery is not working the way I thought it would.

And while I am NOT recharging, the kids maintain their full energy.

Lots of hide-and-seek.

Here Bug discovers he can spy and scream through windows!

The college boys pop in last weekend for a nice, surprise visit.

And while I was delighted to see them both..I still have NO ENERGY!!!  I start to wonder if this is what mono feels like.

My friend Dug put it pretty succinctly.

Dug worked nights as a bouncer and dragged his sleep-deprived self to Kairos most of the week. His words a week later were..It's like having a really bad hangover. Only..I never got to drink. Dang, I should have had a drink. I think we are too old for this.

Yesterday I finally just got sick, sick, sick. I think my body said Enough. I had been fighting some sort-of fluish something for a week. Yesterday, I just gave out. My mind would say..get up and play with the kids. My body said..I think I'll sit here for a few minutes before I throw up or pass out.

Thank goodness for Austen who saved the day!

I tried to stay in motion with the Rugrats. I did not do a very good job. Austen fed them, he played with them, he carried crying babies.

Austen let me sleep.

And today? The  Austen kid is in bed.

For when he was not watching rugrats he was larping with friends. Austen managed to roll over a rock (think summersaultish thing) with his shoulder blade while whacking friends with swords. Now the boy can't seem to get out of bed. I think he is having his much shorter/teen version of depleted.

So now I know. I have some very definite limitations. I am human. (I think I had delusions otherwise). Lesson learned. In other words. Big Oops?!
I am taking this weekend off. I had hoped to go to Austin to visit Brian-Scott. But nope.

No plans. Nothing. I am going to sit in front of the t.v. in a vegetative state watching Lifetime movies and/or sleep, sleep, sleep. Then, maybe then. I can replenish my depleted self just a tad.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Deer, Trikes and Brownies

This is the week before the October Kairos weekend at the Torres Unit, Tx.  Here is a video for anyone who is interested in Kairos Prison Ministry International.

So..pretty much, I have been living and breathing Kairos prep around here for the past month. I have been given the opportunity (non-Kairos related) to preach every third Sunday at the Torres Unit..starting in December. I am looking forward to this.

But Holy Moly..for an HOUR! Who preaches for an hour? For that matter? Who listens for an hour? It will be good for me. I also have the chance to preach again at Grace in a couple of weeks. And all of this? Has brought me back to taking time to sit still in the word. And for this, I am grateful.

But ministry aside my daily actions are pretty much the same. And the routines with the kids are also pretty much the same.

      The deer continue to greet Big B and I every morning. A new development is that some of them are now coming back for lunch.  They like to see what sort of leftovers the Rugrats will throw their way.

The weather is starting to cool off a little. So the kids are spending a lot of time riding trikes and watching/listening to windchimes on the deck.

and most importantly..we have discovered (or rediscovered) BROWNIES.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Rockin' Evolvin' Revolvin' Revolutionaries

 It is Thursday, here at Rugrat Ranch. Meaning..the band has reminded Miss Applesauce Pants that it is time for this week's update.

Really?, asks Miss Applesauce Pants. Because I just blogged yesterday. 

 She is greeted by stone silence followed by a loud sigh. Did you write about our revolving?  asks Blue Monkey. Miss Applesauce is puzzled. Huh?   

You know..our re-vol-ving? Like we're revolvers and stuff?! Blue Monkey is exasperated . He gives Miss Applesauce pants his best, are a traitor look.

There is a giggle from the couch.

I think he means REVOLUTIONARIES, clarifies Black Rat. You should write about how the band are (another giggle) Revolving Revolutionaries. More giggling. Or...How about Evolving Revolving Revolutionaries. Tell the world who we are!!!

So this is the tale..all honest, I promise.

Every single day the band reads their favourite book.John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith. Several times a day, actually. Miss Applesauce has never been sure WHY this is the favorite. But she and the kids read..almost in unison..this book every day.

This past Monday, the high-school kids started their co-op. This meant the band (gasp) skipped rehearsal that day. Instead they used their little ears to eavesdrop on the teens.

The teens were discussing revolutions..and revolutionaries..and what that means.  But no one of ever talked about the Revolutionary War. The Band could not believe it. The fact that the teens were discussing revolutions AFTER 1800 was not the point.  Because the band? They know this story.

So on they were reading John, Paul, George and Ben the band asked Miss Applesauce to change the names in the book to the names of the band members. For two days there was much debate as to who fit who. In the end it was decided.

Blue Monkey is John Hancock. Why? Because he is the BOLDEST of the whole band. He is never afraid to speak, run, walk or write first. Even if he sometimes introduces himself to people by saying,Hi. I'm Blue Monkey. Do you like video games? I would talk to you, but actually, I'm shy. Most important Blue Monkey  likes to write his name Really BIG. Just like in the book.

Bug is Paul Revere. That was an easy one. He is always banging things, ringing bells and the noisiest of everyone.

Next came George Washington. Who should be George Washington? Well it had to be someone honest. Even though Hurricane J and Little Man C have been busy with family stuff this week, the band voted Little Man C as the only truly honest one of the batch. 

 Black Rat made it clear that she would have to be Ben Franklin. She took one look at the band and said..I HAVE To be the clever one. The band agreed.

..and then there is Independent Tom. It was UNANIMOUS. This HAS to be Hurricane J. After all he ALWAYS does his own thing. I mean really, expands Blue Monkey,we have to chase him everywhere!!!

 and so we retell the story with our latest, more recent is a sample of John, Paul, Ben and George by Lane Smith. The revised version:

...Fortunately, Bug was a NOISY man. After his midnight ride., every Minuteman, woman and child knew who was coming and what they'd be wearing.....

....The Americans needed to formally state their separation from the king. Who better, than Hurricane J, an INDEPENDENT man, to write The Declaration of Independence?

Simply signing such a document was treasonous. And dangerous. Black Rat, a CLEVER woman, said it best: "We must all hang together," she quipped, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

One might think twice about signing his name. Not Blue Monkey. A BOLD man, he was the first to scribble his autograph.....

..The war was won thanks to GENERAL LITTLE MAN C. Everyone thought he would make a great king for the new United States of America. But Little Man C was an HONEST man. "The last thing we need is another King Little Man C" he said. "President Little Man C, however has a nice ring to it."

now the book in it's original version is much longer and Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band HIGHLY recommend it. Because we have excellent taste, and all that.

So that is how the band has become evolving revolving revolutionaries.

When we are not being revolutionaries, we have band practice. Today we practiced in the morning in unison with a U2 c.d. Blue Monkey felt we should learn from the experts. We practiced ALL MORNING. U2 would be proud, no doubt.

Then just before lunch, we went on our Nature Walk. We could hear Led Zeppelin echoing through the hills. There is a biker ralley across the highway from Rancho Rugrat. They were playing Led Zeppelin all morning.

Miss Applesauce Pants stopped under a pecan tree. She stopped to watch the band as they played with the innocence of children.

She watched as Bug squealed and giggled NOISILY down a trail.

Blue Monkey was practising racing with the speed of a cheetah into unknown territory. Why? Because it was wise to be fast if you are BOLD. How did he know this? Because Black Rat is CLEVER..and she told him so.

Black Rat looked at Miss Applesauce Pants.

You know,we are cooler than the Sons of Liberty. WE are the ROCKIN' EVOLVIN' REVOLVIN' REVOLUTIONARIES! And then she left to pick a flower.

 Miss Applesauce replied with upmost confidence, most certainly are!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Boy Has Wheels...and the rest is small potatoes..

 It's true. Austen got his license today! No more squishing with little peoples..or less squishing with little peoples, anyway. No more relying on friends and family to drive him places.

Those of you who know Austen's history, know that this is a BIG deal!!

So we celebrated by going to Mc Donalds!

NO. This is not Austen's choice. But the elementary kids wanted McD' we took them as a bribe. Austen was a good sport.

After a series of small errands and picking up Bug. Austen is free!

Look at that grin!

And yes..we do ask him to pick up the mail and milk.

I think I'm gonna like this!

I've already got him booked for a series of errands for the upcoming Kairos weekend.

You know, small things, like can you pick up 35 lbs. of chicken salad from Bricks at 9a.m. and drive it to the church in x town?

oh..and can you come back Thursday and help package cookies and grill hamburgers?

Yup! I'm really liking this new license arrangement!

WE also started co-op this week! It was nice to have these kids back this year. I really did miss them last year..but I am also glad we took our little hiatus.

It is the Return of Apples to Apples..and muffins. Some things remain the same year after year after year after year...

Experimenting with sentences....and then silly sentences..and then even sillier sentences.

Bug stays  busy with pots. He is not the least bit interested in what the older kids are doing.

 The teens move to the den. Away from the younger people who sometimes think the older kids make good climbing walls. The research on Millard Fillmore, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beacher Stowe, and Charles Darwin begins...

And Bug continues playing with pots! The record is 4 pots stacked before THE BIG CRASH.

Bug's adventures are not limited to pots and pans.  Bug has also been busy refining his fashion sense.

He now wears Princess Pull-ups! We tried them on during an emergency one day. Low and behold he did NOT pull them off. As a matter of fact, he was heart-broken when we had to take them off his body.

We tried to return to regular diapers. We really did. Bug tears them off.

Not a problem. We bought Clifford Pull-ups. Nothing Happening!

So Princess Pull-Ups it is!

The boy has fashion sense. What can I say?

Super stained (but still the favorite) alien shirt and Princess Pull-Ups. Oh..and the commentary.  Bug loves to tell us his pants are pretty.

He's modest like that.

That's it folks.

One boy with a new coolio, doolio drivers license, and one very modest boy with Pretty Princess Pull-ups...playing ball together below.

and rumours that the college kids are busy, exhausted and doing okay.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pool Rules

It is mid-September. Every morning we get hints of Fall. I awake at 6ish and open windows throughout the house.

  Big B and I sit on our back deck and quietly sip our coffee while watching cardinals (who knew we had cardinals around here?) and one brownish bird as they enjoy the birdhouse buffet.  We have given all the birds names.

Look, Big B will say. There is Red Bird (see how original we are). Where is..oh..there is Spare Parts. I didn't see him.

We sometimes make up imaginary stories as to what our bird friends are doing.

We continue to feed the deer. Big B has befriended the deer. As he goes out to feed the chickens, they start to peer out of the brush.  

Go to the back, he will tell them....and they DO.

Very loudly I might add. We feed the deer left-overs and several loaves of bread every morning.

Big B and I then return to our coffee, watching the wild-life and enjoying the breeze. Yes there is a nice breeze in the morning. And? the leaves  are falling. I still have not been able to figure out what trees have leaves...but leaves are falling. I become hopeful that we will have fall weather soon.

But by 11 a.m..the temperatures are back in the high 90's early 100's.

The Rancho Rugrat kids and I swim. A LOT. Because, swimming breaks up our day and makes it bearable to go outside in the later afternoons.

You see..we like to be outside. But by 9:30 (after playing outside and venturing on our daily nature walk..recently turned Star Wars adventure) we are back inside.

Miss Applesauce Pants (that's me) and the Exploding Diaper Band (see previous posts) have band practice. Blue Monkey and Bug LIKE to practice every single day.  The rest of us oblige.

Then we all return to the business of playing. But the words of Blue Monkey playing is HARD work.

And hard work, is exhausting.

So after lunch, the exploding diaper dancers and rhythm section take naps.

Blue Monkey, Black Rat and Miss Applesauce Pants usually read,  write..and play games, while the band rests. But by 2ish, everyone becomes whiny.

So to solve this whinyness dilemma, the band swims as soon as the dancers/percussionists wake up.

And THAT is how Miss Applesauce and the Exploding Diaper Band acquired their pool rules.

Blue Monkey felt that Miss Applesauce Pants and her son Austen were not adequate lifeguards. But not to worry..he assured everyone, I'm a lifeguard..really.Right Black Rat? 

Black Rat usually reminds him he shouldn't lie. Blue Monkey is nonplussed. Oh..she doesn't know, he assures us.

 Blue Monkey stations himself by the ladder of our above ground circular 4 foot deep pool. He keeps his floatie with him. This is very important..because,you know..he can't BREATHE under water! Blue Monkey then  orchestrates everyone's play and doles out rules.

So now you have them..Pool Rules by Blue Monkey.

1. Everyone must wear clothes.(No naked diaper band allowed).

2.  The radio should be on JACK FM because we know those songs.

3. ALL pool toys MUST BE IN THE POOL.

4. All bath toys MUST BE IN THE POOL.

5. Babies should be placed in the floating cooler so they can be pulled by Miss Applesauce Pants.

6. Once Miss Applesauce is pulling the babies in the cooler..everyone should float in their tube and attach to the cooler turned a conga line.

7. Miss Applesauce can pull the train of tubes fast (And the lifeguard will be at the end to watch) so we can make a whirl pool.

8. Once the whirl pool has settled everyone must look for the diving toys..specifically the shark, the clam and..possibly the Lost City of Atlantis.

9. When everyone dries off and changes clothes. Miss Applesauce should just not bother changing. She can just stay wet..or throw clothes on over her swimsuit..because the band is too busy to wait for her!

10. When the band eats their popsicles on the deck..the exploding diaper band should still wear clothes. (See no naked diaper band rule Number 1)

So for all my West Coast friends..who don't know if their kids have school or not due to TEA strike?

Just see what you could be doing? You could trade in those school rules for pool rules.

Just sayin'!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Whatever Works

   It is that time of year. Kids are back in school. New school supplies, new teachers, new tennis shoes..all that good stuff.

Homeschoolers are gearing up in their own style. Some families purchase new curriculum, co-ops are starting up, park-days are returning into families weekly routines, etc.

But almost to a tee..all families whether they public school, private school or homeschool, are taking time to ponder. To consider learning styles of their children and educational styles of their choice. To evaluate what has worked, what has not...and to look forward to what lies headed.

So in that way, this year is no different. I have often labeled myself a Waldorf-inspired unschooler. And some years..that was actually appropriate. But more often than not..we hit the Whatever Works Approach.

I have probably mentioned this approach before. It is that blend between the ideals in your imagination..and the reality of the personalities in your home.

It is the ability to imagine a home (or family children's care) with all eco-friendly, natural toys, no electronics, only healthy foods and a magical rhythm to our day.

It is the ability to take those ideals and say..oops..Maybe that isn't going to work after all. And to laugh at the reality in front of you. To take the components from your imagination that work in real life and blend your imagination with  ideas from the imaginations of others. To embrace the collaborative imagination (through much trial and error). To allow the real live personalities in your home to create a rhythm and lifestyle together.

And I have found myself at this place, once again. I had lots of grand delusions of what this Fall would look like. I made some hard-core decisions at the beginning. Absolutely no t.v. unless we had a really bad weather day. No way am I going to homeschool other people's children. (I get asked every year..I always respectfully decline). No swimming or field trips because I didn't want to mess with the bureaucracy in registered care.I didn't like this part..but really I felt the need to become registered as soon as possible.

Needless to say, we are still not registered. Financial issues and some logistical details more than anything. Lucky for me, the families here do not care at this time. We will get there..but now we are swimming,going to the Homeschool Park Day, the library and the grocery store every week. So I will take longer to get through this process so that we can continue with "field trips" and swimming.

I am thoroughly enjoying having the addition of two elementary aged homeschoolers in our home. After a few weeks of getting to know eachother and figuring what we want this year to look like, the kids decided they want to do what the older (teenage) kids do. They work on one or two workbook pages of math (okay..the older ones work through problem sets), they write something (anything) and read for 1-2 hours a day..or I read to them. The rest of the day, they do whatever they want.  These kids spend more time in formal study than my own kids would EVER spend at this age. But it is what they are craving at this time.

We have lots of plastic toys. Sometimes we eat pure junk. For example, last week? I was sick for a couple of days. I wanted to skip are "soup making" day. I was fighting a headache, and feeling really nauseous when  I dropped a gallon of milk on the floor. The one year old started dancing in the milk.  The 6 year old walked through the puddle of milk and left a milk trail.. with CandyLand in hand... asking when we were going to play. (Because we HAVE to play before doing any math!)

I announced we were skipping soup.

Oh my..the opposition.  I caved.

The kids fixed and ate Ramen Noodles.I didn't even know we had ramen noodles. We found them buried in the pantry. I might as well have handed them a bag of chips and is lunch. But instead? We enjoyed the Ramen Noodles. We also went to Sonic last week..and ate frozen pizza.

But the biggest change of all?  We  spend Thursdays on a screen time blitz.

Kids bring their own D.S.'s,I blog (and the kids sometimes help), we watch movies and eat popcorn in my bedroom-turned--movie-room. You bedroom which I swore I was not opening to public use. What was I thinking? We LOVE Thursdays.

Now we still keep some Waldorfish components.  Daily nature walks, a nature table, art and music daily..and LOTS of play. But I'm pretty sure you can find these in other educational styles as well. So I no longer pretend (even to myself) that we are Waldorf-Inspired.

There are some ideals that are not negotiable. For instance, mutual respect. Respect is not negotiable. We spend much time discussing kindness and respect. What does this mean? What does this look like? How can I be kind?

But mostly? As far as time consuming activities?  We seem to be spending time around meals. We created a daily/weekly rhythm..which we (oh my) posted on a bulletin board. Those who know me know I'm not a bulletin board person. Along with the weekly menu. (actually..need these things to be registered anyway). And the kids INSITED that we add MEALS TOGETHER for daily rhythm...sort of almost a HOUSE RULE.

And my, have our meals evolved. The kids now help fix breakfast almost every day. We set the table with a table-cloth, napkins and silverware at least twice a day. Much of our weekly rhythm revolves around food. Would be nice if I could actually cook.

But the kitchen IS the center of everything around here. It's where most of our conversations and a good deal of play happen. Wouldn't change this for anything.

And so we have evolved..into a weekly rhythm..which the kids have asked I post for your pleasure;)

Mondays: bake muffins, (high-school co-op starts in 2 weeks!), nature craft, library and homeschool Park Day.

Tuesdays: trip to grocery store (to pick our fruit, purchase ingredients for soup and get a lollipop from Ms. Ellen), puppets, and clay.

Wednesday: make soup, chalk art and dragon math

Thursdays: media blitz (games and movies), swimming and baking cookies.

Fridays: fishing/swimming, pizza making and painting.

Every day : play, play, Nature Walk, play, band practice, play and meals together!

..and there you have it. Our Official Schedule created by a committee and everything! For now anyway.

Let's see what happens when the teens arrive.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Growing Up by Dancing Bug

Okay. This is Bug here. It appears everyone else in the band has something to say. True..I am still working on my words..but I can sure THINK a thing or two. So I am here to let you guys know...

I am growing up!

Want proof? Look at me. I am now facing forward in the car-seat!!!

And this is just the beginning. Now? I can dance in my car-seat. Austen tries to wear headphones..but I can just sing and dance on my own, anyway. Why? Because I LOVE TO DANCE.  (And Austen? He really does like to sit with me..he just pretends I'm noisy. We have lots of fun together)

But the truth is..Austen plays drums with me.

Actually he plays the drum..he practices his capoeira rhythms...and I sit on the drum. It sounds different when I sit on it.  It sounds different when I stand on it too. But body just starts moving.

I can't help it. Then I have to stomp my feet..and then..well..what can I say? I'm just made to dance!

Now I'm not a classical Camille over at sardinesinacan . Nope ..that's not me. I'm a more fee-style stomper. Especially when the band plays. Like these guys.

Only..I think I need a little more practice. Actually..we all do.

Which reminds me..I'm in this band..and they call me one of the "exploding diaper babies". Can you believe it?! I try not to wear a diaper. I take them off every chance I get!

But MomNom (who everyone else calls Miss Applesauce Pants..I don't know why) thinks I should wear a diaper. I mean really? But MomNom? She's just kinda quirky that way. She has other weird rules for us to.!! She's killing us here. All of us have jobs.

For instance..Blue Monkey and Black Rat collect chicken eggs and make tea every morning. Why? Because there is a rumor that ice-tea is the house wine of the South. Momnom says we (as in all the parents, Big B aka DadDA's friends, and us band members) go through 3 pictures of tea a day. That is a lotta tea making.

Also? Blue Monkey and Black Rat are supposed to offer tea to anyone who comes over? I try to offer tea. But usually? I just dance with a tea-pot. Because if I hold MY teapot over my mouth..I can make it sound like a trumpet while I dance.

So back to jobs. My job? To feed the deer and to clean tables. I am an excellent table cleaner. You give me a cloth..I will wipe a table. I'm pretty good at sorting laundry too. MomNom hangs them on the fireplace..and I put them back on the chair..where they belong. Sometimes..I just run and put them back in the dryer. I don't know what Momnom would do without me sometimes.

I mean..she doesn't even put my shoes in the dryer when I am not wearing them. I take care of that for her. And speaking of shoes. I have to tell her I need my shoes. Shoose...shoose. I tell her all the time. I mean..without shoes I can't go outside (too many stickers) I bring them to her. 

When I  bring her my shoes after my nap, Momnom tells me no ..not now. It's too hot.

I don't know what she's talking about. I tell her over and over Shoose..Shoose..'side I'm working on the P sound..but I say please and everything.

But no..another one of those quirks. We only go outside when it is in the double digits..whatever that means.

(sigh) Which means..I just have to dance some more. I can't help it. Honest.

Last week at community dining, I was so tired. I was rubbing my eyes and trying to finish my food and Uncle Ricci played some music. I couldn't help it..right there in my body just started moving. I could barely keep my eyes open..but I could dance in my seat. Have I told you I'm a good dancer?

I've been trying to show Blue Monkey and Black Rat that I'm getting bigger. I am learning to climb. I just get a little stuck sometimes, that's all.

But most of all..I can pick my own clothes. Here I am in my FAVORITE Alien shirt. I think I should wear my Alien shirt and nothing else. But, once again, MomNom has other ideas. Back to that diaper thing..

Now I don't know if you know it or not. But my band has been trying to sell worms to buy more instruments. Can you believe they kept the worms in a fishbowl in the laundry room?!. I try to tell them this is wrong.

Shoose..shoose..'side KEESE!  I tell them.I even bang on the worms. They just don't listen. So..I have been trying to free the worms whenever I can!

Black Rat thought she was smart and moved the worms on the fire-place mantel. I have been trying to figure out how to rescue them. But I think my problems are solved. You know why? Because yesterday we received a package. Our band got a whole box of instruments from a friend in MA. She wrote a note saying this was for the Rugrats and everything!!!

The band has been discussing sending her the whole worm farm..but there is still a debate going on. Personally? I think we should let the worms go! And that we have more drums and stuff? They will let them free. I sure hope so.

But Me?

I am busy growing up..and I know who I am.

I am a worm advocate who likes to dance..or stomp..actually...with tea-pot in hand.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Idea Forms

Every Friday Miss Applesauce Pants, Blue Monkey and Black Rat go fishing.

This is the day when the rest of the disbanded (see Blue Monkey Tells a Tale post) diaper band are gone. And without the diaper band, Miss Applesauce Pants, Blue Monkey and Black Rat can do things that are hard to do when the whole band is together.

 Which is how it came to be, that Fridays were designated Pizza making, Fishing and Painting days.  This past Friday started as all the others.

First Blue Monkey, Black Rat and Miss Applesauce Pants made pizza dough while Blue Monkey played on the piano between dough kneading and rising.

Every since Black Rat quit the band. Blue Monkey has been playing piano..(and sighing), playing violin (and sighing), playing the drums (and sighing.) Finally, on this particular Friday,  Black Rat caved.

All right already, she says as she tosses her pizza dough in the air.  What if we reunite and we are just a rhythm band. Because do I say this? Black Rat sprinkles some more flour on the dough and then looks directly at Blue Monkey. Well, Blue Monkey, we are NOT VERY GOOD.  

Really? says Blue Monkey(.he is not remotely concerned that we may not sound any good) 

Yes. sighs Black Rat. For now it is her turn to sigh.

Perfect! says Blue Monkey.

Before he can get too excited Black Rat gives him her offer.

We can be a rhythm band, but we cannot practice all the time. Maybe just once a day. Because really? I am an artist. Not a musician. YOU are the musician.

This greatly pleases Blue Monkey. But Blue Monkeys sometimes only hears what he wants. And I will still be the fiddle player. You guys will be the rhythm band and I will be the fiddle player. Because I am a GREAT violin player. 

Black Rat gives Miss Applesauce Pants the see what I have to work with look. Then says. Fine.

But Black Rat is a bit concerned. For you see. The violin is TOO BIG for Blue Monkey. So he can only play open strings because his fingers can't reach the finger board. But Black Rat does not want to disappoint Blue Monkey. So instead she says..

Yeah. But I think you should learn the rhythm band part also. You know, until we can make some money and get you a violin that fits.  And we should probably make some money for some rhythm instruments too. Because right now? We have one drum.

But the kitchen..., states Blue Monkey with a gesture to the pots and pans.

One drum, restates Black Rat.

Blue Monkey knows that pots and pans can make amazing music. But maybe Black Rat is right. Maybe she IS an artist and not a musician. It really doesn't matter, because Blue Monkey cares greatly about Black Rat and would never be in a band without her.

After some debate, Blue Monkey agrees with Black Rat and suggests that they contemplate business plans as they fish.  
So Miss Applesauce Pants, Black Rat and Blue Monkey gather their fishing poles to return to Blue Monkey's declared feud on the Chinese Fish.

Now feuding with a fish takes strategy. Part of the strategy for this war has been experimenting with which bait is best. First Blue Monkey tried corn. Corn was how the feud began. Next was hot-dogs. Black Monkey thought hot-dogs would do the trick. But Blue Monkey was SO BUSY that week..that all the fish were scared away. Miss Applesauce agreed to bring worms.

But first all the worms had to be named. And you can't feed worms with names to fish.

No! Not that one! Blue Monkey would cry. That is wormy. 

Not that one either! would join Black Rat. That is princess.

Black Rat likes princesses. Despite the fact that Black Rat chooses names like Black Rat and loves what she refers to as scary, horror, art. Black Rat likes to wear cute little matching outfits with jewel covered flip-flops. She also loves princesses and unicorns. Black Rat is spending some time  this year discovering who she is.

And once Black Rat starts talking about princesses, well, there is no way we can put a hook in a princess. Blue Monkey quickly realizes that this could become a problem.

Here take this one. He tells Miss Applesauce Pants. It's Blackworm the Pirate. And then the calamity begins.

As Blue Monkey is renaming the worms, his pole starts to come apart. Miss Applesauce Pants! he cries.

Miss Applesauce pants tries to help. She really does. But then she slides down the boulder and catches a tree trunk with her foot to keep from falling into the fishing hole.

SSHH!! hiss Black Rat and Blue Monkey in unison.

Miss Applesauce pants tries to put the pole back together, when she feels a pull. No way. It is the fish. Miss Applesauce Pants tugs on the line as hard as she can. Blue Monkey holds onto Miss Applesauce Pants. Black Rat holds onto Blue Monkey.

The fish gets away with the worm. This goes on for 3 more worms. Miss Applesauce Pants, Black Rat and Blue Monkey say goodbye to Wild Worm Hickock, Buffalo Worm and Queen Elizaworm. 

It is agreed that worms are the way to go. But once the fish has finished feasting, the river becomes very quiet again.

I'm hungry, says Blue Monkey. Blue Monkey is always hungry. Miss Applesauce Pants and Black Rat tell him to wait 10 more minutes. And during this 10 minutes Blue Monkey begins to think.

Hey. Where did these worms come from?

The store. Says Miss Applesauce Pants.

You mean you bought them?

Well yes. says Miss Applesauce Pants. People collect and sell worms to the ice-house. I buy them from the ice house. You know..people have worm farms and everything. 

Miss Applesauce launches off on a boring list of things worms can be used for.

Blue Monkey does not hear.

You mean we could sell worms? asks Blue Monkey. Black Rat looks on with interest.

Oh dear, thinks Miss Applesauce Pants.  She remembers harvesting worms with her own  3 GROWN BOYS, when they were young.

Uhmm..yes? she responds meekly.

And so Miss Applesauce Pants, Blue Monkey and Black Rat return home to eat their pizza and create a worm farm. Because a worm farm? Will buy the instruments for the band!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can You Hear A Walnut?

It has been a bit busy around here.

For starters Brian had his 21st birthday!!! And in true Brian form..he chose to come home and hang with his family. I many 21 year olds..come hang out at Ranch Rugrat to play Chinese Checkers for their 21st birthdays? He was thrilled..I tell you...absolutely graciously thrilled.  Gotta love the boy!

and now Brian is starting his graduate school journey...with rumours  that his summer job has been extended through the Fall.

Here are Brian, Cody and Austen on his birthday. They all know this will be the last time they are all together for a while. And? I think Cody and Austen were glad Brian came home!

...and here is Cody with Little Man C..having a staring contest.

I wanted to add this, since Cody has left this little home of ours for HIS OWN PLACE!!!!

Cody moved into his dorm last weekend. Here he is with Dad, Austen and Grandpa a few seconds after walking into his new home away from home. He is thrilled I had him can tell by the puffed out cheeks.

 We spent most of the morning getting the kid moved in. I was worried about things know..clothes and cleaning supplies. But Cody? He had his priorities.

...and here is Big B "testing" Cody's new bed. All this moving his sons out of the house? Exhausting.

.....We return home.  As Brian and Cody settle in for a year of study.

And then Austen is left with us! Austen has been doing his own thing for quite a while now. So this year is no different. We decided to post-pone community college for a semester.

Austen is going to focus on earning some money for summer travel, studying French, LOTS OF MATH and...capoeira.  Here is Austen at Capoeira.

And as the TALL Boys learn their own life lessons..I am learning a few things from the creatures (see monkey, wolf and tiny people below) here at Rancho Rugrat.

Lessons Learned

1.  The importance of a sense of humor.

2. I make a lousy Chewbacca. In order to make the proper Chewbacca must gather the proper amount of spit in the back of one's throat. I do not gather my spit right.

3. I remind most children 11 and under of their grandma. When? I wonder..did THIS happen???

4. The  continued importance of a sense of humor.

5. When feeding deer left-over lunch from the is important to throw food away from the big circular thing with water in the yard. Otherwise? One may be retrieving burritoes from the pool.

6. If you spend an afternoon explaining to an 11 year old that saying Eeww gross..everytime a baby walks near her..a baby will then throw up on you..and you will say Eeww Gross!

7. When a baby is really sick..everyone will pull together and even try to make the baby chicken noodle soup.
8. Most children like to hear stories, to tell stories..and to snuggle on the couch and look at books. A Lot. Box-Car Children books are interesting for a wide range of personalities in the "little taller people" crowd.

9. Even if there is a important to get outside..even if only for 10 that 6 year old boys can be ninjas in the woods. If not, they will be ninjas in the house. Ninjas in the house can cause much destruction.

And finally the most important lesson of all..............
10. How to listen to a walnut....

When 6 year old ninja says...Listen..Can you hear the walnut? and shakes a walnut next to your ear.  If you sit still and listen quietly, you will..indeed... hear the walnut.

And taking the time to listen to a what it's all about. Even when your BIG  TALL BOYS are leaving for college.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blue Monkey Tells a Tale

  Alas it is true.

After 2 short weeks of a dynamic existence. Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band has (ahem) disbanded.

It appears that Black Rat feels her gifts are in other areas. She is choosing to spend most of her time focusing on scary art. Blue Monkey does not feel we can continue without her. So..for now..The Band is busy with other things.

  As I stated in the last of the things Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band does regularly is go for Nature Walks. Now..these are not your ordinary Nature Walks. Why? Because in addition to discovering all sorts of natural treasures we are on a quest. A quest to find a chupacabra...and that is the underlying theme of ALL our nature walks.

And so it came to be that one morning this past week..after a very long and unsuccessful chupacabra hunt, Blue Monkey pulled out an apple to share with the entire band..and said we could have a seat. He then told us a fishing tale.

You started like this, Blue Monkey tells the diaper band (because they are always a good audience). Last Friday..when you guys were not here..Miss Applesauce Pants, Black Rat and I went fishing.

We fished for a v-e-r-y...l-o-n-g...t-i-m-e.  Black Rat got some ant bites and caught a few sticks. We were not having much luck..when Black Rat found it..The GOLDEN HOOK.  So I took off my man-made hook (a piece of wire) and put on THE GOLDEN HOOK...and do you know what?

I got a bite...a pull..a HUGE..oh no. Miss Applesauce me..I cried..Miss Applesauce Pants held onto the back of my shirt while I started being pulled into the water..and then it happened. My line snapped.

Miss Applesauce Pants says sometimes that happens. And then I saw it..a Big Chinese Fish came out from under the rock.  Miss Applesauce Pants says she thinks it's a catfish. She is wrong. Do you know how I know? This one has Big it is a Chinese Fish. I think people in China really like to eat them. I've never tried it, though. 

Black Rat and I decided to declare war on the Chinese Fish. After stole THE GOLDEN HOOK.  We tried and tried again..but the Chinese Fish kept sending out it's warriors..the alligator gar . Two of them..actually..but finally it sent the ants. The ants invaded..and we had to retreat.

But just wait. Because next Friday? We are going back. And this time? 

We are gonna...

Catch. That. Fish.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band

 Rugrat Ranch has started earlier than expected.

We are letting the kids dribble in slowly..week by week. This week we started with our Elementary Aged crew. One incredibly enthusiastic and energetic 6 year old boy along with his more timid, but imaginative 11 year old sister.  And, of course, Bug.

We start with a basic rhythm...not much different than what we have been doing all summer. We decide to spend some time creating art-journals and playing lots of Chinese Checkers and Dominoes to get to know eachother better.

..and part of our rhythm is Nature Walks..and so it begins.
I think we need woodland names..says 6 year old boy. I am blue monkey

We all agree that is the perfect name for him.

What about you?? Who are you?  Blue Monkey asks his sister. She is exasperated. She has been busy following deer tracks and looking for the perfect hiking stick.  Blue Monkey keeps running over her tracks. She takes a deep breath to calm herself..and raises one eyebrow.

I think I'll be a can call me Black Rat!..and if you don't monkey yourself over there....(points to Pecan Grove) well then Bug and I are going to eradicate you.

And no..Bug is actually not going to eradicate Blue Monkey. He is in the Moby Wrap grabbing leaves from low hanging limbs and saying "I the Baby!!" and then showing off his latest spitting noise to Black Rat.

Blue Monkey is not deterred. How about Miss Nicole? What are we going to call Miss Nicole?..but then we see a turtle..and the concern for my name is quickly forgotten.

  A few days later we have house-guests. So we add Hurricane J (3) and Little Man C (8 months) to the mix. (Their parents are nearby) And then on Wednesday we add Miss A (3 years) and Mr. A (11 months) to the mix..and my! oh my!

 This is a group with some personality. Good thing, we like lots of personality.

The kids had started some spinach and bean soup. It is not finished in time for lunch. We agree to have the soup for a snack later.  I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a side of applesauce.

We decide to have a picnic on the deck. Miss A, Blue Monkey and Black Rat find a "Big Kids Table".

I am politely requested to "Please sit with the babies.." "The Babies' meaning..Bug and Mr. A.

And so I do..where I supervise food throwing, and help feed applesauce into open mouths. Because Bug and Mr. A were having way too-much fun splashing the applesauce.

The kids finish lunch, wash up and head to the sand-box. We seem to be missing a plate. I decide it must be in the dishwasher already.  I grab my sandwich and have a seat..right on a plate of apple-sauce! I found the missing plate?

Nothing escapes Blue Monkey. He spies this and yells from the sandbox. That's it! Miss Nicole's woodland name is now Miss Applesauce Pants! The kids all agree. They are quite pleased with my new name..and so I become Miss Applesauce Pants.

On Thursday, we are back to just Blue Monkey, Black Rat, Bug and Me. You know, Miss Applesauce Pants. On Thursday afternoons we are "doing music".

Blue Monkey wants to play the fiddle. I teach him how to use the bow and play open strings. He learns the names of the strings and practices.

Black Rat would prefer piano Thank you very much. So we find middle C and learn the notes C-G..all over the keyboard. She practices playing with a basic hand position.

Well how about you Miss Applesauce? (Blue Monkey has decided to spare me the "pants" part today). Aren't you joining our band? I mean really..don't you know how to play anything?

I just happen to have a new, awesome, guitar. A completely unexpected gift from one of the Kairos musicians.

I play The Nursery Rhyme Song..with Blue Monkey playing open strings..and Black Rat playing her new learned notes in various random order as she mumbles the names of the keys under her breath.

We sound GREAT! says Blue Monkey.

Black Rat agrees we have promise..but we have to practice a lot...and what are the babies going to do?  Blue Monkey and Black Rat mull over this and agree that the babies can be our percussion section and the dancers (for Bug and Mr. A? LIKE TO DANCE)

But we need a name...proclaim Blue Monkey and Black Rat in unison..After a quick Jinx game..they debate weather we should be called "The Sharks" or "The Resident (from Resident Evil) Princess"

I excuse myself to change Bug's diaper.

That's IT!!! Exclaims Blue Monkey. ( and yes..I am beginning to get leary of Blue Monkey's exclamations) We are....(drumroll please)..

Black Rat bangs on the toy drum...

 Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band!!!

Black Rat can't quit laughing. It's perfect..she laughs between breaths.

Bug claps his hand.

It is unanimous.

I am now a proud member of Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band.

(Tune in next time for Miss Applesauce Pants and the Exploding Diaper Band Go Fishing)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bubble Invaders...

Cody and his girlfriend Ellie had there Ungraduation/Getting the Heck Outta' Here  party this past Friday night. Neither one of them wanted to participate in any sort-of formal graduation. They didn't want any big party.

You have to do something!!!  I kept telling them last May. I was determined. Something to acknowledge that they were moving on. Something to say..Hey..we are really proud of you. mark this transition in their lives.

Finally one evening Ellie looks at me from the I ask again..Isn't there something you guys want to do???  Cody continues to stare at me with that well worn my mother is an alien look. Ellie sighs. She knows this is inevitable. Her mother and I both need some closure.

Can't we just go out to eat or something?

So it is done. Ellie's mom (over at sardines in a can) and I settle on a date in August. Sardine mama creates Ungraduation/getting the heck out of here  invites.. and last Friday. We say goodbye and hangout at The Cove.

The Cove is in San Antonio. We are not. I get the pleasure of squishing Cody and crew in my car for probably the last time. "The Crew" being what I like to refer to as "the bubble invaders". It will be a long time before these guys are together again. I soak it for all it is worth. I take pictures along the way.

Cody is a boy who is extremely loyal to his friends..but he can go days, weeks even...just by himself. He starts a project and hyper-focuses. Often he will tell us how cost INefficient something is..and then we say..yes Cody..but the human factor is there. We will make the trip not for the groceries..but to see x, y or z person. Because they would LIKE to see you.   

Hence the need for the self-proclaimed Bubble Invaders. Now please don't get me wrong. Cody actually enjoys The Human Factor. It is just occasionally necessary for our Bubble Invaders to help him make the transition.

Was it necessary for these guys to bubble invade Cody for his send-off. They seemed to think so.

 First we start with Austen.  Austen has cut his summer at Girl Scout camp a day early, to return for Cody's send off. I don't think he has quite registered he is back for good, yet. 

Here we pick up Mason. Mason has just driven from the coast to meet us in a grocery store parking lot just in time for Cody's sendoff.

We pick up Justin. Hey.. says Justin..I need to go to the bank. Once at the bank Oh..says Cody..I'll be back.  He runs inside.

Justin has a bloody nose and chooses to have pictures taken with a kleenex sticking out of his nose. I might blog this.. I warn him. Justin smiles his Justin smile and says. Okay. Come on gotta pose with us..we might not get to squish with you like this again. (Justin has squished with us many times.)

Cody is bemused. He jumps in the front seat. Come on guys..says Justin..lets get in Cody's bubble...and hence the bubble invading begins.

The boys pile around Cody. I love these boys..and I wonder...will Cody have anyone to Invade the Bubble (as the boys like to say) when he is gone?

I am grateful for the friends that invade Cody's bubble. Cody has other things to tell them.

After a few errands and stops. One of the stops is at the post-office where Cody receives his first book for school. Plato's Republic. Perfect.

I make one last stop at Hobby Lobby to pick up modeling clay and paint brushes for Rancho Rugrat. The Bubble Invaders seem to be doing their job. Here they hang out and pose at a table for sale..while waiting for me to finish.

Cody chooses to hide behind the flowers...

We arrive at the Cove.

We have an enjoyable evening..even if it is 104 on the patio area we reserved..once the sun goes is pleasant, even. Several families come to show their support of Cody and Ellie.

 I am reminded, once again, of how lucky we are to have this sort of support system. I wonder again..who will Cody let into his bubble? Will he be lucky enough to have bubble invaders in his new home?

I sure hope so. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

3 Weeks Already?..

So much for keeping up with the blog!  Life has been rolling along here at shaggyboystown.

When I first started this blog, I called it shaggyboys because my then, younger boys..had such long, shaggy, in their eyes, hair. The boys have grown. They no longer aspire to look like Jedi Knights and Pokemon characters. One even wears business casual to work with his short hair and everything. My..that happened fast!

I also started this blog after the death of a dear friend. My friend Leticia lived life fully. She never did anything extravagant. She could blend into a crowd fairly well. But she had a laugh that was contagious, a strong sense of compassion for all who came into her world, and loved her family with such was humbling. Leticia knew her life would be short..and she treasured every moment of it. Good and Bad. She was (and still is) well loved. She enjoyed living.

So when I am asked what I blog about, I have no real answer. Other know..just day-to-day life. Because it is this day-to-day stuff that makes us who we are. Not the high points..or the low points. Just the small stuff.

What is some of the living that has filled our days?

First I would like you to meet my Uncle Yates and Aunt Nancy. They are part of my North Carolina family. My Aunt and Uncle came to visit. It was nice to see them. They hung out a lot at the River Walk, visited some of the small Hill Country towns..and spent an afternoon with us.

But let me set the tone as to just how generous this visit was. We had hoped that they could come out for a some tubing, play in the river...hang out in town, and we would end with a Cajun Crab Boil. Yup. That was the plan. But then we had this drought thing happen. So river? Hmm..we have a puddle? Then of course is that heat we keep talking about.

Last week Eric (Mr. Eric is a friend who is currently living in our tree-house and helping me get our house in order for day-care) and I were sitting on the deck. We were like you feel that breeze? Did it cool off? It feels kinda nice...and then we looked at the thermostat.

 What can I say? We have acclimated?

So no River Play..extreme heat...and wouldn't you know it? The town was almost empty. Almost unheard of on a weekend in The Cowboy Capital of the World.  But regardless, here are Yates and Nancy in front of the General Store.   Why? Because they wanted to prove to a friend they were in Bandera!

My Uncle took some other pictures while they were here. Since he is a much better photographer than me..thought I would share.

Horses in town, cooling off in the shade

A few longhorns looking for anything green

We return home to just hang out. Here are Uncle Yates and Levi.

We enjoy, yet another, Cajun Crab Boil. What can I say? We like Cajun food around here.

During the past few weeks..we also celebrate my sister's "pinning" . She has completed her nursing program. Now she studies for (drum roll please) THE BIG TEST....

It is time to prepare for the next Kairos weekend at one of the local prisons. I spend time helping prepare for team-buildings, etc.

We continue to pick away at what needs to be done to legalise what my friend Jack refers to as Rancho Rugrat.

The co-op parents and I finalise curriculum plans for the motley highschool crew. We agree on TRISMS revolutionary studies along with an eclectic mix of stuff for Marine Biology and Stack the Deck writing program

We squeeze in a pretty invasive (but pleasantly successful so far) eye surgery for another family member. I continue to pick away at this afghan for Cody. Have I mentioned before I do not know how to crochet??? Well...7 months into it and I am no better.

Similar to my friend Leticia who triggered my desire to blog. I have a dear friend who has recently chosen to admit herself into hospice care. I first  met Pat at my Women and Spirituality..turned Book Club..that sometimes forgets to read..Club. Our women and spirituality.. turned book club..that sometimes forgets to read club meet by Pat's bed in the hospital. If she is too tired we meet in the waiting room. As usual, we laugh, we ponder, we cry.

We help finalise funeral plans. I meet with the local funeral home to help make arrangements for Pat's funeral. Pat is very clear about how she wants to leave this earth..and we are trying our best to honor her wishes.

In the midst of all, our family celebrates Big B's birthday with ice-cream cake!

 This evening Big B and I are going out for our 21st anniversary. Our anniversary is actually not until Sunday..but today? We can enjoy ourselves and not feel like we are ignoring work that needs to be done. Quite sad..don't you think? 

We are doing our annual thing. Spending all our restaurant gift-cards in one evening..and ending with appetisers at Chilli's. 

We bought ourselves some used chain-link fence..complete with all the hardware. We are spending our anniversary weekend putting up fence posts! Now that? That is day-to-day living.