Friday, March 28, 2014

Marching On

Wow, nearly 4 months deep into the new year and I am still wavering when I fill out the date.  I never know the day of the month-which someone is always happy to chirp at you, it's the year that keeps screwing me up.  1997, right?  2006?  It's WHAT?  Huh.

This has been a fairly slow week, the first few days we stayed home and the kids did Khan and so on.  I accidentally clicked on a Bartimaeus book on my ereader and got sucked in. Again. Ring of Solomon.  READ IT.  It's the 4th book, but a prequel and he does not even refer to the trilogy events even in passing.  READ IT. Chan and Ben went back and did the 'counting to 100' and some other very early math skills that were just added.  I guess I DID say it's good to review, but some just know.  I call slacker.  hahaha  Jake muddled on ahead and spent a while on history.  He's still writing on his project.

Thursday we had a community service meeting to plan some things, I have my very own month!

Me, thrilled to totes pwn June

We had dance afterward, then I headed home with Rho and Elan to watch Paranormal Activity 1 and 2. They had Brit on chat and I asked if she could meet us at the usual spot and Bobby said he'd drive her, so we piled in at 8:30 and went to get her.  We watched movies half the night and they ate over 4 pounds of mesquite grilled chicken with rice, beans and greens.

This morning we were back up early and ate breakfast then headed to game day at Dy's house.  She had also invited NACHO people, which was fine but it made for lots of kids running around, 70% of whom, I did not know and we had to leave early, so I did not get around to meeting any of the new moms, either.

We had to leave to meet Amanda and drop off her kids, got that done and headed back home with Brit for one more night.  Next week is pretty crammed full, so we don't have much in the way of weekend 'going' plans just yet.  I have a long list of things needing attending right here at home.

 I gave Chan my camera and she apparently followed Brit around...
Everyone should have their very own shiny friend

I wangled the kids into nearly all getting in front of the camera before we headed out.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Things

What is this time of year good for?  Introspection, but then again I live in my head-which is why I have been rearranging what lives in there with me more diligently.  Planning-camping trips on the calendar along with various day trips, a short road trip and several hikes between now and mid-May.  I overbook so that when the weather kills a plan, another can spring up just days away.  Cleaning.  Yes, deeper efforts now that the sun is warming cold bones and the brighter light is revealing winter's dusty corners.

The slow turn of the earth, the creak of the billions year old axis, the groan of the ground shrugging off the blanket of cold sleep and waking up, the simultaneous clarity of mind and crave for action paired with the fog that comes with the resistance to change and the desire to stay sluggy and read in bed.  Everything was fine, why do something different?  The mind content to perform the sin of omission even to itself, glossing over what isn't working and beaming down on the high points like the sun hitting a peak over a valley shrouded in mist.

I spent yesterday deep cleaning.  Chandler caught the bug and was up nearly all night and when she emerged again this morning, she wanted hot food and more trash bags.  The Webkinz that have cluttered her room for a decade are no more.  Art supplies, books, clothes and shoes, stacks of projects...bagged up for tossing or donating.  I squirreled away a few things, I can't let go as quickly, it wasn't my idea for her to box up her childhood! 16.

I know most mother-daughter relationships are rocky through this phase, but Chan has not been typical a day in her life.  I respect her privacy and freedom, the kids are all free to do as they choose and have been for years.  I think that's led to less of a need to push boundaries in our case.  We have had a very easy go of it, that's for sure.  Other than Jake trying out a few swear words last year, there's been nothing close to teen angst.  I am glad, as I don't deal well with nonsense dramatics.  Maybe they are just trying to make it easy on me and at night when I am in bed they have a 3-way editing hour on their All Hail Satan fansite before stealing the minivan and heading out to the chicken fights or to tip cows and crack the whip at their meth shack.  But, I kind of doubt it.

Today was spent in the yard, laying out the garden and getting pots out of storage.  I cleaned the front porch and set up a potting and seedling station. I hauled out all my seeds and drew grids and made my budget.  I looked through buckets and screamed a few times as fat sleepy frogs slithered out from their winter tombs.  I can't begin to say how much they freak me out.  Just imagine a glob of ice cold raw liver the size of a baseball sliding out and smacking into you when you are just minding your own business.  eeeee

Eeeeee.  Some more.

The runners are getting geared up to do a run in May, it's one of those run and climb and get in mud type things. Kurt said, "So, I hear you are thinking about joining us!"  Then he burst out laughing.  MEAN.  I like to think I am too smart to subject myself to such insanity, but really, I am too chicken.  It's not that I can't run nearly 4 miles and haul myself up by my arms and waller around like a bird in a puddle, it's that I'd rather be comfortable and dry.  ALL the time.  The whole concept is foreign.  Matt thinks it will goad him into getting into shape.  The boys find themselves feeling young and invincible.  Not sure what the rest of the team is feeling about it, but time is passing quickly.  I have joined in on some of the getting in shape efforts.  I'm half of the support and photography team after all.  Well, really it's more that I feel really lazy when they are running and doing crunches and push ups while I download books and watch.

So that's spring so far. Looking forward to the warmer end of the week.

My one shot at Hays on Saturday when we had our hike.
I thought it was a very enthusiastic sign that seems to have once pointed in the wrong direction.

Pear in front of the house



 I don't know what this is, I have always thought of it as tiny carnation bush.

Tulip tree

Garden plot of the FUTURE.

View out Ben's window.

My snack today.  I had more than three...

Just before sunset Saturday evening I walked over next door and took some shots of the tulip trees.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Scouting Afternoon

We got up and got going this morning, I tried very hard to ignore how messy the house is getting from the running around we are doing.

Amanda had asked about checking out a few spots for camping and maybe taking a hike.  We agreed on the time and place and headed out a little early so we could stop at the Dutch Oven en route.  My plan was to get bread, cheese and likely some buckeyes.  $42 later...I know better, I can't just run in that place.  We left with macaroons, 2 loaves of bread, hot red pepper jelly, gummy frogs, buckeyes, a bag of chocolates, yerba mate drink mix, muscadine cider and some 'add water' types of soup mixes that we want to try for backpacking.  But no cheese.

We arrived at the Brushy Lake Day Use Area and got parked and walked around a bit before having a snack.  Then we walked the .5 mile trail to the dam and opted to keep going and walked along the creek a ways to a backpacking camp site that we all agreed was perfect.  So we set up camp there.  The big kids took off while the adults and littles picked trees that needed some leaning against and we did little more than talk some and listen to the water flowing by.  There was some stick playing and Matt tried to impress the baby by twirling a stick between his fingers like a drumstick.  When he finished Matt said, "Whoa!" and they both chuckled.  Then Bird waved HIS stick around like a crazy conductor and yelled, "WHOA!" with his big round eyes and mouth. The 5th time was no less adorable.

We walked a while and saw this, then walked a good while longer before actually finding the kids-barefoot with no gear at all.

Rho took these, I missed the snake, yay!  It's a cottonmouth.  

I do not know what this is.  Yet.

The falls from the dam are at the top of this picture, you could hear them quite well as we walked beside the creek.

The trail that goes to the top of the cliffs.  We used to walk this EVERY Sunday when I was a kid.

Scariest picnic ever!

Are you lichen my hair?

We finally shifted our hides when we realized there was no easy way to get to the creek from our 'campsite' and set off to find better access for smaller people.  The older kids rejoined us and we all headed back to the cars for more food.

After a picnic in which Amanda graciously shared her much healthier fare while we kept the gummy frogs hidden from her kids, we walked over to the campground and looked around.  It's $5 a night to camp and a couple of the sites are QUITE nicely situated.  There are 2 water spigots between the 10 sites, but only a pit toilet at the campground.  At the day use area, about...100 feet away, there's a bathroom with flush toilets and hot showers.  The showers look super manky and in need of repair, but if they get fixed up, it would be a great place to camp-Brushy Lake is really pretty.

We headed out from there to the bridge and looked around, but still no good creek access.  Our last stop was at Rush Creek, where Matt and I went a couple years ago to geocache and got stuck on that mesa!  It's a beautiful creek when it's flowing and we decided that was the spot!  We are going back ASAP when it's warm enough to get in and play.  I already have been daydreaming about this very spot for tubing with the kids.  No leeches.  :)

Matt took these, I was unwilling to get in the water, it was about 32.1 degrees.

Chan headed on home with Rho, we go tomorrow to lead an organized hike in Huntsville EARLY IN THE MORNING and will be picking up Ben and Elan-they are at Alex's house-afterward.  Then we can meet up with Amanda tomorrow evening and swap kids back around at the Mexican place we all like. Another great day in the making!

Anyway, that was our day-sweet and sunny with a side of chill.  When we got home, I crashed HARD for about 2 hours (after I vacuumed) and now I am WIDE awake.  I knocked out a good bit of the mess in the house-it's mostly things just not where they need to be.  And did laundry, of course.  Matt must have thought my nap was permanent, he's been passed out since before dark.  Now that I think about it a bit, I am not as wide awake as I thought.  He's awfully warm and snuggly and it IS chilly in here...I think I will leave the rest of the to do list for another day.  G'night!

Orr Park

 On the first day of each season, I like to celebrate and the more people I can drag along, the better.

Matt and I have kicked around driving to Orr Park, which is south of Birmingham at Montevallo for the better part of a year now.  I decided today was the day.  I posted to see if anyone from dance wanted to drive down early and join us.  They all did!  Matt surprised me by taking the day off and Gina drove to meet us with Brit at the mechanic's when we dropped off his car to get the oil changed this morning.  Everything fell into place.

We arrived around 11, with Amanda and Sunni right behind us, Katy was about 90 seconds behind them and Stephanie pulled in as we were unloaded.  We joined the 4 other families at the pavilion across the creek by the playground and were happy to see another big group of homeschoolers already there.  The kids joined forces super fast, playing all kinds of running and sweating games.  The moms set up picnics and got drinks ready and chatted with one another.  We broke into smaller groups and strolled around to explore so there were always plenty of adults around where the kids were playing.  There were about 35 people in our dance group and the other homeschool group, so there were many games of Frisbee and soccer for the older kids, the younger playing on the playground and riding scooters or flying kites and all ages had the hoops and bubbles going.

Orr Park is lovely on its own.  There's a wide creek right through the middle with big trees and rolling hills and walkways.  Today the sun was up after DAYS of clouds and rain and cold.  It was cloudless and warm and everyone was giddy from the beauty of the day.  And the pollen.

The reason we wanted to go here in particular when there are a hundred other pretty parks in the state was to see the tree carvings.  Tim Tingle got permission to start carving dead cedar trees many years ago and over time has transformed around 30 into people and animals.  One of the younger kids said, "WHOA! 1997!" when he saw the date carved into the tree.  It made me smile in that way that I am sure Europeans smile when we say things like, "My house is 80 years old!"

Zoomed in on a bee tree!  

Matt and Emma headed over to a tiny island to hunt for a cache.
The water was too deep to wade, so they took the pipe over.  Emma strolled it.

Guess what she saw!?

They looked for a bit, but the snake must have taken the cache when it hid itself!

While they crashed around in the brush, I played around with my macro back on Terra Firma.

Happy Clovers!

We wandered around a while, went back to eat a while, wandered around a while, went back to chat a while.  It was a really relaxing and WARM day.

Much too soon, we had to hit the road for dance.  While the worn out kids tried to master something called Crazy Foot Mambo, the adults sat outside and watched the little ones play and chatted about camping and dreaming of vacations in other countries.  Typical warm weather fare.  :)