Saturday, August 12, 2017

tea time

Annabelle is in a big tea party phase. She has a few different sets, most of which she likes to use in the bathtub and spill all over the bathroom floor. Our housekeeper is never here when I need her so I have to clean up the tea party tsunami myself.

We asked Mrs. Jim to join us for an outdoor tea party earlier this week. Mrs. Jim does have a name- Anne- but for months we didn't know it so we called her Mrs. Jim and it's stuck.
Annabelle picked this lovely arrangement of weeds flowers for the centerpiece. She kept telling me Mrs. Jim would love them so much. 
It's important to be appropriately dressed for a tea party so she her sparkly skirt and "race car man vest" for the occasion. They don't call her Stylin Sesame for nothing!
Much to Annabelle's great joy Mrs. Jim brought cupcakes. We had lemonade and water which Annabelle served with the expected amount of spillage on the table. She was so excited about the whole thing she broke a cup and saucer. After the tea she showed Mrs. Jim her room and introduced her to all her 587 stuffed animals and toys. Each new thing she showed was her "favorite one." 

The Jims were over today putting in sod so naturally Annabelle offered her services.
I'm so glad she has Big Mr. Jim and Mrs Jim in her life. They in no way replace her actual grandparents, but it's nice she has an older couple like them in her life. Big Jim even shared his hot dog with her today which was a true act of kindness. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

yellow caution tape will not be part of my final patio decor

For months our landlord Little Jim has been saying we were going to get a patio in the backyard. I was very excited about this new addition to our backyard. We have a lovely yard and the only thing missing was a good place to put our chairs and AB's sandbox/pool/picnic table/wheel barrel/endless number of plastic yard toys. I had big plans of making it, as the Pottery Barn catalog calls it, "an outdoor oasis." From the way Jim talked it sounded like the patio would be up and ready by May but that didn't happen. Thanks to the steady stream of rain we've had for literal weeks on end, the patio men never showed up and I began to lose hope. 

Last week was sunny and patio day finally arrived. The Jims (Little Jim and his father Big Jim) decided to have the walkway in the front replaced at the same time. Annabelle was enthralled and kept calling out directions and asking questions. "You need to move a yittle to the right. No, the left. Why is he moving our sidewalk? What's that man's name? What's he doing with the path? Move to the left!" It was three days of free babysitting.
The whole operation caused a lot of excitement among the female members of our house. We spent a significant amount of time watching the proceedings and critiquing the workers. I'm not a concrete expert but that didn't stop me from evaluating their work. The Jims are obsessed with keeping the yard in pristine condition. The quality of care they give the grass is similar to the level expected at the White House. After the embarrassing condition of the lawn at our Fort Campbell home everyone is glad we aren't responsible for the yard work around here. I knew The Jims wouldn't be happy with the pile of dirt and rocks thrown onto the grass. 
I would have talked to the workers about it but I tried to avoid eye contact with them. One of them showed up unexpectedly a while ago to give an estimate. It was early in the morning and I saw him when I opened the blinds. He looked at me and I looked at him. Then he rang the doorbell and I ran upstairs to hide because I was in my pajamas with no bra on and I refuse to answer the door like that. 

Unfortunately the workers hit a snag. More specifically, they hit a sewer pipe and discovered a leak. Big Jim came over to assess and call the plumber. Neighbors Hippie Bob and Don met in our front yard to discuss the goings on.
The plumber came with his digger and dug a huge, 8 feet deep hole on the side of our driveway.
I cannot emphasis enough how bad it smelled. We had a gigantic pile of poop dirt in our driveway which is every bit as awful as it sounds. 
Please notice the classy yellow warning tape by the door. A third of the back yard was dug up, the entire front yard was covered with chunks of concrete and the pile of dirt was front and center to everyone who drove on our very busy street. None of it was an outdoor oasis. Thankfully The Jims have been by every day to fill the holes and plant new grass. I don't know what they'd do without Annabelle there to tell them about her potty training and popsicle eating while they worked. 
In the midst of the hullabaloo, Hippie Bob decided to try out his new lawn mower in our yard. He has his own yard but I guess ours was more appealing. He did one strip down the middle then left.
Needless to say he will not be added to The Jims lawn crew. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

little Memories, July 2017

* I went for a rare walk by myself and actually had time to notice little things like an ombre leaf. 
 * Annabelle said she was sick and needed ''hot tea and a get well card." I gave her the tea but didn't make the card. I said if she was still "sick" in the morning I'd make her a card. The next morning she was acting fine but insisted she was "very sick in my stomach" so she got a card. 
* Christopher was telling Annabelle the polite way to talk to people. Look in their eyes, listen, and don't walk away. He asked her to repeat back what he said and she replied "Look people in the eyes and do dinosaurs live in houses?" Good talk. Glad it really got through.

* Speaking of the Sesame Pie, she's trying to cut out her afternoon nap. I AM NOT ON BOARD WITH THAT PLAN. She refused to nap one afternoon recently then had a meltdown at 5 o'clock. I held her on the couch for a while and she fell asleep. 
 She's gotten so big. Look how long her legs are. 
She used to fit inside my sweatshirt! 
* I love a good joke. A well timed pun makes me so happy. Today at the zoo we were watching the otters and I told AB she "should be otterly happy about seeing them." She didn't get it but I was proud of myself. I texted Christopher a few jokes the other day. I know they're corny but they made me laugh. 
I hope he otterly enjoyed them. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

when introverts and extroverts party

On Saturday we hosted 19 people for a cookout. I had never met half of them. Needless to say I'm still recovering.

Our church has been encouraging regular attenders to host cookouts this summer and invite friends/neighbors who don't normally attend church. Being the most introverted of the introverts we did not jump for joy when we heard about this plan. I enjoy hosting people, but if I'm going to have someone into my personal space I like to know them. We decided to host one anyway because it was the Lord's work and, to be honest, I was hoping for some extra heavenly treasure for my efforts. 

It first it was a manageable size. We invited the landlords, four neighbors and two friends we knew from Fort Campbell. Nine people was a nice size and we knew them all. Then Christopher decided to invite the people on the other side of Hippie Bob and Sue. That was venturing into uncharted neighborhood territory. They weren't home but the people on the other side of them were so Christopher invited them. While he was talking to them, the guy next door came to see what was going on so he got invited too. Then Matt from work got an invitation. Then a family from church said they'd come help out. The numbers quickly got out of control.

I channeled my nerves into selecting the right color scheme and planning cupcake flavors. At one point I said something about how my gold and white with touches of pink color scheme didn't make one bit of difference. No one would notice anyway. I didn't even want to bother with coordinating straws. (WHO AM I?) Let's cancel the whole thing and move to Montana. Christopher thought I should ditch the color scheme and we should focus on more important things like how much food to buy and having enough seating. 

Matt and Phil (an unexpected addition) arrived early. The neighbors old and new trickled in shortly after. Most of the neighbors had never met. We were the new kids on the block bringing everyone together. Bob and Sue couldn't come because he was running his 25th yard sale of the year. I asked him where he gets all the items he sells (he has a never ending supply in his yard) and he said "they fall from the sky. It's bad for business when it rains." I'd imagine so. The family from church came just in the nick of time. They socialized and helped and saved the day. We could have survived without them, but they made the experience a million times easier. If we get a few treasures in heaven for this they will certainly get several mansions. The moral of this story is introverts hosting a party should always have extreme extroverts on the guest list.

All in all the event went well. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we were glad we did it, even though we did look like this the second everyone left.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

one man's trash is another girl's prized possession

I spent a good portion of my day thinking I didn't have anything interesting to report from the weekend. Then I remembered that I made a wooden bowl which isn't an every day occurrence. You'd think that would have been something in the forefront of my mind since I've been eating Skittles out of it all day.

For many years now I've been trying to get Christopher into a hobby that isn't reading or drumming. I was specifically steering him in the direction of woodworking. I have a list several miles long of things I'd like built and he needed a hobby. It's a win win for everyone. He finally agreed to try it and he's fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Or saw, hammer and screws as the case may be. He's bought the tools, signed up for classes and made endless trips to Home Depot. He signed us for a wooden bowl making class at a wood shop in town. He never complains about waiting for me while I shop at the craft store so I was happy to do something he wanted. 

I've done some woodworking but not for years. Grandpa and I made Aaron a wooden fort with removable roof for his plastic cowboys and indians and two little wooden tanks. They remain the pinnacle of my (short) wood career.  I had never used a lathe, a drill press or the plethora of other tools Joe the instructor taught us. It was a very new experience. 

I'm just going to throw it out there that I'm really proud of myself for not crying during the entire three hours. The last time Christopher and I did a class together was when we got our concealed carry license at Fort Lee. I was too weak to pull the trigger so I held up the entire class. It was mortifying. I may have shed a few tears behind my safety glasses. I truly believed my bowl was going to be a disaster but Joe came by frequently with encouragement and fixed my many mistakes. Every time my tool hit the machine it made a terrible sound. I lost count of the times it made that sound. Eventually people stopped wondering who wasn't using their tool properly because it was always me. 

Before. Obviously. 
Christopher's is on the left and mine the right. We were supposed to be making matching bowls but Christopher went rogue. His bowl is like Cinderella at the ball and mine is the plain stepsister. 

In other recent news, Annabelle has a new fascination with trash. Our kitchen windows overlook the backyard and she likes to look for "treasures" while she eats then go out in the yard to pick it up. This week she's brought in a leaf, a crumpled up flier and a random bits of plastic. She tells me she "lubs them all so much and they're my faborites." Today she asked me to take a picture of her with the sign the yard man put up.
The first of our tomatoes are red! One was destroyed by a bug but the other was perfect. I split a cherry tomato in thirds so we could all try it. We all got a piece the size of an M&M. We have SO many green tomatoes that will turn if it ever stops raining. I have big plans to make some into sauce and save it for the winter. I hope I can approach canning with the same enthusiasm Christopher approaches a package of new saw blades or AB when she sees a discarded water bottle.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

its not all doom and gloom. sometimes its goats taking a stroll through your yard.

 I know my last post was all mopey and endless woe is me. I generally try to stay upbeat but sometimes your house floods and it's hard to be optimistic when ants are covering the place you eat your meals.

Our neighbor Hippie Bob invited us to his birthday party on Saturday. He didn't invite us until Friday night so it was obvious we weren't on the original guest list. Our relationship with HB and his common law wife is very shallow. We wave at each other and he yells 'hi' to Annabelle until she verbally responds. She gets shy and doesn't do more than wave which causes him to continue yelling. HB has a constant yard sale going on at the end of his driveway and while I can't say how much he makes, I don't think he does too poorly. There's a constant stream of customers to buy his old bikes and expired infant car seats. Sometimes he decorates his yard with items he doesn't want to part with. For months he had a giant stuffed horse on a tree stump. Much like the USPS it was there through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night. No matter the weather Bob wears a jacket and straw hat. He has a bushy white beard and wears his hair in a pony tail. Many a time the smell marijuana has drifted over from their yard. He and Sue make for quite the people watching. Not that I'm into that kind of thing of course. I'm always reminding Christopher not to be so nosy.

In preparation for his party he displayed not only an American flag but a confederate as well. He wanted all guest to feel welcome, no matter which side of the Mason/Dixon line they call home.
Hippie Bob spared no expense for the party. He had a horse, a pony, a rabbit, four goats and stage where Strawberry Jam serenaded him late into the night. Let's not forget about the shipment of porta potties that arrived at his house the day before the party. He told Christopher there would also be a bull (it was not specified whether it would be a real or mechanical bull) but the only bull was a bull shaped grill. There was about 50 guests and we didn't know a soul until our landlord and his parents arrived. We were the only non-family members invited and it was very awkward. We said we "had another event" after the party and made a quick getaway. Our other event was going hiking but Bob didn't need to know details. He cornered me yesterday as I was watering plants to talk about the party. He said it was a great time, that he didn't start drinking until 7 o'clock because he "wanted to be normal", that his niece is a world renowned neurosurgeon who is "known not just here, not just there, but everywhere" and that Sue's mother sold furniture to Martha Stewart. We covered a lot of ground in four minutes.


In other party news, Annabelle hosted a tea party in the backyard. She said it was the best tea party she had ever been to. I enjoyed it, but the host asked me to wear a too small pirate vest so I was very uncomfortable. She's not afraid of dirt or picking up worms but she's also very girly and I love it. 
Mr. Happy came out for his yearly visit. We'll been taking pictures with him for four years now so we've gotten our money's worth out of that dollar store investment. Shortly after this picture Annabelle used the potty of her own free will. I almost cried. She hasn't done it again since but I needed that glimmer of encouragement. AB's future employers will really love this detailed recap of her potty journey. 
Our garden is doing so well. I took this picture yesterday morning and by the evening it had turned into a green bean. Our tomato plants are bursting with green tomatoes. Contrary to our landlord's father's Eeyore prediction, no rabbits or deer have come by for a snack.
On our fifth day of potty training we went out to play in the rain. Sesame was in seventh heaven. She wore her puddle boots, winter hat and no pants. She was as happy as a clam.