Thursday, June 30, 2016

BASEBALL! - June's Photo Blogging Challenge

For most of the last 9 years, our family's sports life has been dominated by soccer. So much soccer. In the last couple of years, though, our kids have been branching out. This month has been unusually consumed by baseball. Very fortunate for this blogger, seeing as how P.J.'s theme for this month's challenge is "Baseball".

Pretty sure I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again. I am so glad we live so close to the capital of Indiana. We have the opportunity to do so many things we otherwise would not get to do. For example, this month we were able to go cheer on our high school's baseball team as they fought their way to a state win. The game was held in our city's minor league stadium and drew a crowd bigger than most minor league games. Our unranked home team was playing against the #1 ranked team. It took extra innings, but in the end our team, full of talented teens with whom my kids attend school, WON!

As I mentioned in at least one previous post, Turken is our only child playing baseball. His team has done very well this season (#! in the league) and was playing for the championship. This, of course meant a longer season than normal, which meant lots of extra practice time for him and lots of extra time to kill for Cuckoo and me. We played some 1v1 baseball. It's not nearly as fun as it sounds, especially when you play with a tennis ball because we didn't have a baseball in the car. (Tennis balls hit by a 6 year old go faaaaaaar.)

When playing defense, my boy takes "down and ready" seriously.

Never underestimate the power of the fans. For the final championship game, the teens skipped soccer practice to cheer their brother's team on. They even made signs.

But most of the credit has to go to the coaches. The success of a team full of 8 year olds is dependent on the ability of the coaches to teach, encourage, and inspire their athletes. We had the best ones in the league, and their number of wins reflects it.

Throughout this month, my kids were surprised many times with my knowledge and understanding of the game of baseball. I really blew their minds when the pitcher in the high school game balked, and I could explain to them what it means.

Thanks to my dad, I spent many nights at baseball games throughout my childhood. Between watching my brothers play, taking the hour-long drive to Cleveland to watch our hopelessly terrible Indians play, or using his season tickets for the newly opened minor league field in our home town, I got a good education on the ins and outs of baseball. I don't mind at all that I finally have a kid who loves the game.

How about you? Has your month been taken up by any baseball? Do you even go to baseball games throughout the summer? What's your favorite baseball food? (Mine is Cracker Jacks. Love that stuff.)

If you have a hankerin' to join us in the challenge this month or in future months, head over to P.J.'s blog. Next month's theme will be announced on July 1.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More Random, And It Only Took Me a Week and Three Hours to Write

So, we have pet vultures now. A whole volt of them.

Or a committee.

Or a venue.

So many words to describe a group of vultures.

There's even a separate word to call them when they are eating. A wake.

And when they are flying? Yup, another word. A kettle.

These are things you know when you have pet vultures.

What you don't know is why there is a need to be so specific when talking about a group of some of the ugliest birds on the planet.

It reminds me of trying to teach 4 year olds the words for a single goose or a flock of geese.

The days and weeks that I had to say things like, "See that one bird in the grass? There's only one, so we call it a goose. See all of those birds in the parking lot? Since there's more than one, we call them geese."

And the days and weeks that I had to hear things like, "So if it's in the grass, it's a goose, and if it's in the parking lot it's a geese."

It's enough to make a mother consider leaving her child to be raised by said geese.

Back to the pet vultures.

There are three.

We're just calling them the vultures.

They've been living in our barn for at least 3 weeks now. Every time we go outside, we hear them making a ruckus on the metal roof or see them come swooping out of the barn loft window.

We were a bit startled at first, but honestly, I'm glad they're here. My days of cleaning up nasty dead animals are over!

Of course, our little zootopia we've got going here doesn't leave many dead animals for either of us to dispose of.

To illustrate, I'll describe my time in the garden the other day.

As I sat in the dirt, plants all around, the cat comes looking for attention. He rubs up against my back and legs, but my hands are covered in mud. I couldn't pet him. He wasn't happy that I was ignoring his pleas, so he nipped me. I tossed him to the next row and continued to pull weeds. In protest, he plopped himself down directly on top of 2 green bean plants.

As he sat glaring at me, the chickens came a calling. Their favorite garden pastime is scratching in the grass clippings between the rows, flinging grass all over the new baby plants, thus killing them before they have a chance to give us their yummy veggieness. Seven chickens wander all around me and the grumpy feline.

Next up, the dogs. Roy is content to simply rest in the shade of an apple tree a few yards away. Hershey, on the other hand, must be righthereinmyface, with not a care that he is stomping all over my fragile carrot stalks. He didn't even give the cat or chickens a second glance, and the animals didn't even have the decency to scatter in fear.

After I got the dog and cat off the plants (there really is no way to make chickens do anything without causing way more damage) and back into the grass, I sat myself down to continue with my chore.

Birds were singing. The breeze was blowing through the trees. The sun was shining.

When seemingly out of nowhere, not one, not two, but three rabbits came speeding through the garden. I'm guessing they are the same rabbits that chewed the green beans plants down to nubbins. They went careening into the orchard, chased each other among the trees, and came back for another round bout the garden, paying no attention to the dogs, the cat, or me.

Not only weren't they petrified, they weren't even nervous. The were frolicking for Pete's sake!

So, zootopia continues.

At this rate, I won't be the least bit surprised if, when I'm out picking raspberries along the perimeter of our property, a coyote or two sidles up next to me looking for a scratch behind the ears.

Mighty unfortunate for the vultures.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful week 158

I have poison ivy on my jaw and shoulder that itches like itches so bad I can't even think of an appropriate simile. And there is a fly that keeps buzzing around me and landing on me, including on my actual eye. Yet I will sit here and shoo the fly and not itch and be thankful for all the good things for which I am grateful this week!

I'm a trooper like that.

1. With Phoenix home and baseball over, my days are so much more wide open. I can stay home and cook dinners and people can actually sit down and eat them together.

2. Seeing my boys walk up to the house when they arrive home from soccer practice each night puts a smile on my face every time. Nothing like 2 hours of seriously hard workouts to bring brothers together. I love sitting with them, despite the sweaty stench, when they get home, just listening to them laugh as they tell stories of what happened at practice.

3. The one thing I sometimes regret about moving to the farm is that our kids don't have the opportunity to ride their bikes to friends' houses or even have people over all that often. But, as Bryan and I talked about yesterday, if we had lived in a neighborhood surrounded by their friends, I doubt our kids would be as good of friends with each other. So, I'm thankful that we had the chance to move out to the middle of nowhere.

4. Bryan and I were able to get together with some of our best friends for dinner on Friday night. In the busyness of life, we rarely take the time to do such things, so it was extra fun to do so.

5. Let's give it up for Willis Carrier, the inventor of air conditioning. With the passing of each 90+ degree day, I love him more.

6. We're getting some produce from our garden and around the property. We've been eating plenty of lettuce and green beans and black raspberry cobbler lately.

7. I went to a funeral this week for one of the kindest people I've ever met. I didn't know her well, but I've known her for over a decade. She is the kind of person who makes you feel special just for having the chance to have met her. I kept looking around the church at all these people that I know, wondering how they knew her. It was quite a diverse group of folks. I've been to lots of funerals, but this one hit me harder than most. Partly because she was the kind of person the world needs right about now, but also because she was only 7 years older than me. Yes, sadly she is gone, but looking around that church, you knew how many lives she touched, how much kindness and joy she spread around, and how all of those people have learned from her and will continue to spread kindness because of her.

8. I have been at a loss for summer shoes. I want sandals, but I don't want a pair that has a piece of plastic between my toes and a skinny piece of what seems to be wood as the only barrier between the ground and my foot. I refuse to buy shoes that aren't comfortable the moment I put them on my feet. I had pretty much given up on having any sandals ever, until that dinner with friends on Friday night, in which one of the ladies was wearing a kind of shoe I'd never seen before.

People, I have found my shoe nirvana.

Yoga slings are the best things to be invented since the air conditioner. The soles are made out of yoga mats for crying out loud! I bought the one and only pair I could find in my size yesterday, but I'm considering buying them in every color online now that I know my size. Seriously. They are Fab. U. Lous.

9. On Friday I took the kids downtown and we rented bikes, individual bikes for the older boys, and a surrey for Buttercup and me to pedal the little boys around. In case you've never been here, Indy has a beautiful area downtown called White River Park. It is where the baseball stadium and several museums and the NCAA headquarters are, but it also has a canal walk that leads to the White River, where there are more walking and biking areas. As the boys say, "It was lit." (For you of the older generation who may not know, that is a good thing.)

10. Saturday was our 22nd wedding anniversary. I don't even know how that is possible, but it's true. The kids were gracious enough to not care that we abandoned them for the afternoon and evening, as we went to test drive minivans and buy some shoes and spend two hours having a leisurely dinner at a new restaurant in a nearby town. It was a lovely evening with my groom.

So, how has your week been? Let me in on the good stuff!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Sunday, June 19, 2016

We're All Back Home Together Again!, TToT I don't even know the number anymore

This will be the most thankful week ever!

Two weeks ago, Phoenix and 70 other juniors and seniors left for a 2 week summer field studies out west. They've been rock climbing and white water rafting and hiking up mountains covered in 2 feet of snow and hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and biking almost 40 miles around Durango and heading out to the backcountry for three days to sleep under the stars.

Last Sunday, Bryan and Buttercup left for a week-long mission trip in West Virginia. They have been building a fire escape, framing a wall, putting siding on a house, hanging out with the locals, and getting to know folks from other parts of the country also there to work.

I have been at home with the other four boys, getting them to soccer games and practices and tryouts and baseball games and practices and get-togethers with friends and the library to print things when our home printer died and all the other things that need doing around here.

I am so, so, sosososososososososo thankful to have everyone home (Well, Phoenix isn't here yet, but he will be tomorrow. They are currently in Topeka.) safe, sound, and able to drive people to all of their things.

I am thankful for modern technology and social media. I was able to keep tabs on everyone through photos posted on instagram and facebook.

In addition, Phoenix has even text me and checked in several times over the two weeks. When he left, I didn't tell him he had to, but I'm glad he did. I get all choked up thinking about how much fun he's having while doing so many new and exciting things.

Back here at home, I'm thankful for awesome families with whom we've spent many hours on the sidelines of soccer games. We've had our fair share of horrible experiences with parents I was embarrassed to be associated with over the 8 years we've been involved with club soccer, but the last couple of years have been great fun. Things are changing drastically with the end of this season (Buttercup has decided not to play soccer anymore, and rules have changed as far as age grouping goes, so Giant's team had to be split up.), and we're going to miss the camaraderie.

And I'm back. That was all written on Saturday afternoon. It is now Sunday afternoon, and I have 45 minutes to finish this before I leave to pick Phoenix up at the high school.

I am thankful for fabulous coaches, specifically, today, for Turken's baseball coaches. This season, his team is ranked #1. It isn't because the coaches gathered up all of the best players during the draft. The team has kids who have a very difficult time running from base to base. About 2 weeks into the season, all the coaches in the age group were told that a little girl wanted to join a team. No one wanted to take her. Our head coach said, "If it was my daughter, I'd be heartbroken if no one would want to take her. She can join our team." (This is the only girl in the league. I have no idea why she's playing baseball here instead of softball.) This sweet girl couldn't hit or catch a ball when she came to the first practice. Through the season, the coaches have practiced and encouraged and done a beautiful job with these kids. Now, every kid can hit and catch and participate fully in the game. Tomorrow they play in the semi-final championship game. Give up a cheer for them if you think about it!

Friday night, three of the boys and I headed downtown to our minor league baseball field to watch our high school boys play in the state championship game. (I love living so close to the capital. There are so many opportunities to see and do things we otherwise wouldn't get to do.) Going into the post-season, they weren't even ranked. In this final game, they were playing the #1 ranked team. In extra innings, we won!! I got all teary watching these boys, some of whom we've known for over a decade, play such a great game and take home the trophy.

Star is 15!! Based on behavior from most of his life, I never thought I'd see the day, but he is becoming such a responsible, thoughtful, helpful, outgoing young man. This summer isn't exactly a fun one for him. Most days his schedule includes 2 hours of trimming trees, 2 hours of school work, and 2 hours of soccer practice. On top of that, he empties the dishwasher without being told and takes the little boys out to work with him in the yard. He did a great job being the "man of the house" while Bryan and Phoenix were gone, and even did the unenviable job of locking the chickens up each night. (It is creepy out there in the pitch black dark!) He's busted out of his very quiet bubble that he lived in all through elementary and middle school and is making friends left and right, having a blast in high school. It's been wonderful to watch the transformation, and I'm looking forward to what will be coming in the next few years.

On this Father's Day, I'm so grateful for my dad. While there have been plenty of rough patches through the years of divorce and remarriage and all that came with it, I always knew he loved me. Completely. I knew what it was like to be loved, and as a result I could recognize true love when Bryan came along.

Lastly, I am thankful for my awesome husband. I can't even begin to list all the reasons why. You long-time readers already know. :)

Aaaaaaand, time's up. Time to go pick up my (6'2", not a chance I'll be able to pick him up even if I tried) baby!

Your turn. What good things have happened in your life this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Best Laid Plans of the Father Are Rarely Good for the Mother

I'm going with my friend's (Ivy) approach to blogging and just unloading my brain instead of coming up with those well-thought out hilarious posts of mine you are so used to. The way this blog is going, it may be the only way any writing ever gets done again.

While I was in DC, Bryan came up with a plan to get work done around the house and began the execution of it without hashing it out with me first. In case you're wondering, this behavior on his part never, ever works out well for me.

He told the kids he'd pay them $7.50 per hour to do certain big chores around the house. Things like scraping and painting outbuildings, trimming trees, and weeding the garden. (The kids agreed that mowing was an easy job that didn't deserve full pay, so mowing only earns a kid half pay.) The kids choose which chore they want to do and when they want to do it.

The execution of said plan...

Giant decided to tackle the scraping and painting of the milk house. While Bryan was at work, I got to stop what I was doing (basically being vomited on by our printer's ink cartridge, leaving me covered in black ink) to help Giant pour paint from the super heavy 5 gallon bucket into the paint pan. I'm estimating a pint splatted on the grass before we got the paint pouring in the right direction. I got to help him set up the ladder on the side of the milk house, which happens to be a hill and quite a precarious place for a 13 year old to stand on a ladder to paint. Even worse when the paint pan is set upon the ladder and tilts, thus spilling the paint. Oh, and I forgot to mention there was a nice clip of a wind blowing across the farm. When the paint began to spill, the wind caught it and sent it flying in what would have been a beautiful arc of paint drops if it weren't for the fact the paint was arcing mostly onto me. After the cursing and screaming, I realized that while it was a huge mess, the white did compliment the black ink quite well.

Star decided to tackle the trimming of the trees along the driveway, which, if you'll recall, is a quarter mile long. He was doing a great job, working hard and earning every penny of his $7.50 per hour. Until he got a splinter of wood in his eye because he was never told to wear protective eye wear. He thought he had gotten it out, but three hours later, his eye was all red and discomfort turned to all-out pain. I had to stop what I was doing to get a call into our eye doctor, who just happened to be out of town, then call to get an appointment that day in an eye clinic 30 minutes away.  The poor guy has scratches all over his eyeball, so I now get to stop what I'm doing to put a drop of antibiotics in his eye 4 times a day.

Buttercup decided to mow the grass one day. She managed to get 1/5 of it done, including the west side of the driveway. Not the right side. And then she got busy doing school summer work and packing and leaving for a week-long mission trip. With Bryan. On a week that Phoenix was also out of town on his 2-week summer field studies. Thus leaving me with only one driver, ME, in the house and lots of practices and games and tryouts and appointments. It wasn't until 5 days later that I could finally get out to mow the other 4/5 of the yard. The unmowed section was quite tall, and I was so happy to finally get it done. When starting the mower, it usually takes a couple of tries before the mower really gets going, but this time, on the second turn of the key, it went pop and turned off, never to make a noise again. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I opened it up to see what I could see, but news flash, I am not mechanically inclined. I have absolutely no idea how to get that blasted thing working again. I trudged back in the house to call the service guy. He was able to pick it up that very day! Yeah! Oh, but we're about 10-12 days out before you'll get it back again. That was yesterday. For two weeks, I'll be watching my grass (and to be real, weeds. Our yard is half weeds) grow taller and taller and taller. Quite lopsided, seeing as how 4/5 of the yard have a good headstart on the rest.

BUT! in the midst of all of this nonsense, I managed to learn a new skill. Ya'll, I made me some jelly with those annoying little mulberries we have all over the property. It only took me 2 hours to pick the fruit, 20 minutes to find a jam recipe I could handle, and another 3 hours to heat, squash, mill, curse, conclude jelly instead of jam was a much better idea, strain, yell (GUYS! I NEED MORE BERRIES!! THE PECTIN BOX SAYS I NEED 4 AND A HALF CUPS OF BERRY JUICE, BUT I ONLY HAVE 3 AND A HALF!! PICK! PICK! PIIIIIIIICK!!!!) heat, squash, mill, and strain again, then boil with sugar and pectin, ladle into jars, and sterilize using the water bath method to get 7 tiny jars of yummy mulberry jelly.

Next time, I'm thinking I can cut the time down to only four hours.

Well, that's all the time I have to unload today. There's a nice, hot, humid afternoon calling my hair to come out and play.

I hope to be back soon to update you on other non-exciting times in our lives.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hopefully the Overabundance of Photos Will Make Up for My Absence, TToT 155


*Picture me waving to you*

Here I am!

And here's what I've been up to these past couple of weeks...

1. Giant graduated from 8th grade! It's a big deal when the school is K-8. It's an even bigger deal when it is the 4th Coop kid to graduate in 4 years. We now have FOUR high schoolers! 

Yup, this is the one we consider the keeper. Get the frames ready.
2. Hanging out with the newly graduated! The 8th graders get out of school a week before the rest of the school (and their high school siblings), so that left all sorts of kids languishing at home by themselves. Giant and I went around picking them up so they could all have a fun day together.

We found a new-to-us miniature golf place. $4 to play all day, even if you leave for lunch and come back later, which we did.

3. Sports! Club soccer (Giant and Buttercup) and baseball (Turken) are in their final weeks, with championship games on the near horizon. The weather has been cooperating for the most part (Baseball on Thursday was perfection!), but we'll see how tomorrow goes. I hear there's to be lots of rain and some storms moving in. High school soccer practices started this week. It makes me all teary to see my three oldest boys walking up to the house, soccer bags slung over their shoulders, sweat dried on their brows, after practicing together. I'm really looking forward to the coming season!

4. Last day of school! Talk about a complete turn-around. The first day of school brought all sorts of emotions and tears as a phase of my life ended. As we all knew would happen, I got used to having the quiet days to myself. I got to enjoy doing errands and lunches and basically whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without worrying about how a child would handle it. And now they were coming back. To be with me all day every day. I'm happy to say, so far, it's been as awesome as always. Summer break is the best.

5. Taking a trip to Washington, DC! Remember when we surprised the kids with a trip to Disney, but Phoenix and I were delayed and had to change our flights? Well, we each had an airline credit that expired if we didn't travel by June 1. Bryan was getting on me to schedule something, but I was dragging my feet for a variety of reasons. In the end, I told him I didn't care where we went, just make sure the new flight costs the same as our credit. Ended up, DC was the destination. Phoenix and I spent a quick 3 days packing in as much DC as we could.

This was not my first trip to DC. I was shocked to see how much security has been beefed up.  No going up to the gates of the White House lawn anymore!

Duck. In the water flowing into the WWII memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the background

WWII Memorial at night.

We went to Mass at the oldest Catholic church in DC.
6. While we were in DC, we were able to meet up with Kristi and Tucker! (Sadly, Sarah was off visiting family in another state and couldn't join us.)  It was a quick visit (WAY too quick), but it was wonderful. We watched motorcycles (I'll explain in the next thankful.), ate ice cream, and cooled our feet in a fountain. 

As I've said before, I never guessed that blogging would lead to making friends all over the world, yet that's exactly what has happened. I've met quite a few in person, and I'm happy to say this is yet another one who didn't end up as a male ax murderer but was the funny, interesting, kind lady I expected her to be.

7. We remembered those who didn't make it back from the Vietnam War. One thing about being in DC over Memorial Day...there are a LOT of people. We waited in long lines to get into every single museum. Even the ones that weren't free. It was worth it, though, just to be there for the goings-on. Friday night, we walked around the National Mall. While standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we saw hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles parked on the street and in the grass nearby. More and more were joining them. We walked down to see what was going on. Came to find out, each year, Vietnam Vets ride in for a candlelight vigil and a "parade". The couple we spoke with said that the last time they attended (2 years ago) 800,000 bikes were there. 

My dad fought in Vietnam. He fought alongside of people whose names are on the Memorial Wall. We stayed for the highly emotional candlelight vigil on Friday night. We made sure to be standing along Constitution Ave. for the ride on Sunday. (The "parade" lasted 5 hours or so. We didn't stay for the whole thing, but we stood, watched, and waved at different points during the afternoon, including a bit with Kristi.)

Before the vigil, people lined up by the memorial wall.

8. Enjoying simply soaking in the beauty of flowers. Flowers that are actually growing around my house.

9. Beginning a summer of Fun Fridays! High school soccer is Monday-Thursday from 6-8 each day. Add in travel and such, that's a good 4 hours the boys are gone. And those practices are tough. So much running and conditioning besides playing soccer. Going to a state park to hike before practice is just a bad, bad idea. So, we instituted Fun Fridays. Today we went to one of my favorite parks. (I wrote one of my favorite posts after our last trip there. It kind of lays out my parenting philosophy. You may want to click back to it just to compare photos. Kids grow so daggum fast!)

The weather was perfect, and we had a great time.

I have an almost identical photo of this scene in the other post. Back then Turken was too young to do such death-defying exploration.

No fear of heights in these boys.

A giant tree had recencly (very recently) fallen down over the creek we were following. Couldn't go around it, had to go over it. And hang out in it. And climb it.

Before the day was done, they were all soaked through. At one point they broke out into a roaring game of tag in which you tagged the person by kicking water onto him.

10. Playing games and eating together and getting major manual labor done around the house and cooking with Cuckoo and and and many ands.

How have you been? What have you been up to while I've been gone?

Tell me what you're thankful for!

And then...

Have a lovely day!

*I apologize now for any and all spelling and grammatical errors. I stayed up 2 hours past my bedtime to get this sucker done, and I just don't have the energy to reread before I publish.*

Ten Things of Thankful

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