Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tax season, Van Season. Three years running!

Literally, right at a year since the last van dance.

It goes like this:

file the taxes
pay the property taxes
pay off the credit cards
strand yourself and have to repair the van
have a wonderful friend drive your children to classes for you
run up the credit cards fixing said van until your household is flat broke
spend a year struggling
file the taxes.......

I choose not going to participate in the dance this year. Repairs are going to have to be cash.

It's better than last year, and I know it. I will hold to this, and focus hard upon it.

We know it's something (relative to replacing the engine and the transmission last year) minor. We know how it started (bad engine replacement mechanic: Eric in Port Orchard is a CROOK, people!), with a stripped flashing on the windshield that allowed water to go in during the rainy season and short circuit our wiring.
We rebuilt the brakes yesterday for 600.00. We know this mechanic is both good and honest. We just tested the starter, selenoid, battery and alternator yesterday and they all check out.
So when the van wouldn't start today-- I was frustrated. Very frustrated. But not despondent.

This is a boring entry to anyone who hasn't suffered through this van with me, I know this. I refuse to give up. It's basically a new machine now and until we can get something a hell of a lot greener than this (I am not talking hybrid, I mean greener) then I will keep it. We knew going in that the repairs would be big, and costly but the original price we paid for it more than evens out the budget. No reason to add MORE consumption and MORE money drain to our family. It basically works, it's paid for, and I will drive it until it dies.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cross Stitch

This is a phrase my Grandma says often and it still warms my heart, especially now that I have children and really understand it.

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow,
For babies grow up, I've learned, to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.
(Ruth Hulburt Hamilton)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hair Happy

This is not a day I thought I would see this soon. G-girl decided to get her hair cut.

And she wanted me to do it.

Just for reminders, G-girl has traditionally had very, very long hair. When she turned 6, it was waist length.

When we "trimmed" and colored it in 2007, it was well below her midback.

I am not entirely sure what has changed for her, but here was the result:

Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my.

May 2006

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gardening Planting Schedule

P-daddy tilled gardens and put onion starts in Bed A and seeded potato bed with cuts and straw

Mulched and weeded roses in herb garden

Put in 3 Gallon Molbak's Tomatoes: two roma and one best boy. Oregano overwintered fabulously, put pot in tomato bed. Will split as time permits.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The shape of a summer

It's coming...... I know it is. The days have lengthened and the birds are restless. We pack so much living into summers here that we spend the first rainy months recovering. Somehow it balances out, so that by the time we arrive back here, in the early spring, we're more than ready to launch.

This entry is about the places and programs which inspire and frame our summer living.

I've already mentioned the garden on numerous occasions.... and the places we go to support that endeavor are many. It's also, for being a single-family activity, a way to keep close with our friends, most of whom also garden. It's so much more than a hobby.

Related to the garden is our treatment of the birds we host here. We like our birdfeeders. This year we signed up for a feed membership with Wild Birds Unlimited. I love those folks!

Hot on the heels of putting in our garden, the kids and I will be traveling home to Chassun. I expect to spend far too much time on the beach. G-girlie reminded me today that she wants to go to the waterpark there. I had already forgotten its existence, which is funny because I think of its host park all the time. We practically lived there most of the time, so much so we seriously considered moving closer because we drove there so much.

We usually have "homeschool scouts" at least every other week during the Summer, which is enriching. I know at least a couple of families who are interested in that, maybe more. :)

GH has its own entertainment, and the GH calendar alone could fill one's summer. We do make use of the Summer Sounds at Skansie, and we always intend to go to the films, but never seem to make the screenings. They finally have the schedule up on their site.

One of the shining jewels in the community here is the naturalist group Harbor Wild Watch. I am so impressed by both their initiative and their success. They've really been embraced by the community and they do an incredible job at bringing the wildlife in our waters to the clear attention of children in the community. We will definitely be participating in some of their planned events this summer.

Three of our five birthdays are during the summer, so there is that. We will clearly be camping again, as we love it so much. We're going to Penrose again, and will branch out depending on how the kids do.

We usually spend the 4th of July on our own beach, with friends. Carr Inlet lights up with our own little fireworks display, and it's a nice show for such a short walk. :)

The Renaissance Faire is an absolute must-do. I have the costume we purchased last year and I would like to make some for the children as well. P-daddy wants to get dressed as well, so we need to figure out a family identity. The Faire is moving this year, so we might not get to camp as we'd hoped, but I expect we'll go for the weekend nonetheless, maybe camping somewhere close but established. I am thrilled for them that they've gotten a new property like this. What they will be able to accomplish is probably going to astound a few people.

Also in August, my parents will be coming for a visit. That will be wonderful, as they haven't been here since we had just moved in. We'd only been in this house two weeks and knew nothing of the area. Now, we can show them around and enjoy the city with them.

*I reserve the right to update this with stuff I know I have forgotten.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Leafy Abodes

This will be the year of the treehouse for us. We really need to get one in out there. We have such a perfect yard for it-- half lawn, half wooded-- and I think it is a rite of childhood to build a boss-awesome fort / playhouse / treehouse. As a family we decided to go the treehouse route. So there it is.

We will keep a journal of it. This is definitely going to be a great engineering / naturalist / artistic homeschool project. Right now it's still in the decision making phase. We have very little sourced material so far, but I am going to see how free we can make it. This should be fun!

A starting link:

A complicated link:

A dreamy link: http://www.treehouseworkshop.com/port_kids_01.html

A fabulously fun link: http://www.treehouses.com/treehouse/treesort/home.html

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Many the firsts

This weekend was an amazing experience for the GH Hobbits. On Friday, we received both our tax return and a bonus for P-daddy. This coincided nicely with our friend getting the keys to HER fabulous hobbit home, so after a month here, our friend and her family moved out on Friday. Nikay and her tribe moved in for a brief stay because...........

P-daddy and I went away for the weekend.

No, Seriously.

We rented a houseboat in the Harbor and stayed for two nights, three days. We had plans to go into Seattle, but pretty much all we did was the tourist circuit in GH. Nikay said "I am surprised you're staying in GH," to which I replied "We love GH, but we never get to enjoy it because of time / money / tired children." Personally, sleeping on the water is a bit of heaven as well.

The kids were THRILLED. After a month with crazy-Mom, they were happy to be rid of me, I think, and the break ensured I have returned to them as the Mom they actually like. This is the longest I have ever been away from the kids, and N-man and D-meister have never spent the night away from their Mom. Apparently D-meister mentioned us briefly on the second night. We got plenty of calls, but not one with a tiny voice saying s/he missed us. It was all "where's the sifter" and "where's the sunscreen." Nikay kept them at the beach lots and lots, and baked cookies and cake with them. She came armed for battle too-- brought her own rice cooker, did her laundry and ours while she was here. Nikay rocks, seriously. There is no way this would have worked with anyone else. N-man doesn't remember life without her and D-meister met her when he was 6 weeks old. In all truth, there hasn't been life without her.

Last Monday, I wouldn't have even conceived of this happening, but it did, and it played out so well for everyone (I hope) involved. Now we're home, back on our own schedule, with love cups full and new friends to fold on in.



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pause the Movie!

Lunch on Wednesday yesterday was Nikay's family, along with Pascha's of course, as they're hanging here until their rental comes open.

On the beach yesterday someone referred to my G-girl as a "hardy Northwestern girl, to be sure." It was a. meant as a compliment and b. truer than dirt. She and two of Nikay's children were SWIMMING in Carr Inlet in early April. That's insanity, sheer insanity. What had been intended as a short jaunt to the beach suddenly turned into a full blown homeschool scouts adventure.

No one could blame them, really; the tide was ridiculously low, and the sea creatures were out in the tidal pools. As the children ventured into them to explore, they got more and more wet. After being wet and acclimating to the chill, what was an --accidental, of course--headlong dive into the water? Before long the three tallest were well offshore, swimming in head-to-toe warm gear, from boots to coats. After some necessary photography, the Moms started the equally necessary task of starting a gigantic bonfire, both to warm our hypothermic children and to dry their clothes at least a bit, before we tried to hike back up from the beach.

I hadn't planned a fire, but I brought a lighter. Such a Scout! Be grateful, small frigid ones, that your Moms are handy with drywood!

While we were down on the beach, Nikay's son and Pascha's son went at it in the big style fighting that only rough-and-tumble boys can do. It was actually kind of disturbing to me, because my boys, while they do love to wrestle, are nowhere near as strong and tough as these guys were. I have often wondered to what measure Boyness was holding back when pounding on the N-meister, and in Raeden he found a well-matched opponent in strength, size and inclination. They LOVED it. For me, it was like watching clash of the titans. They would really hit each other using all their favorite methods, from kneeing and wrestling to full blown fisticuffs. They'd slug each other, hurl each other to the ground and pant, all the while grinning like Cheshire cats. They were clearly enjoying this huge test, pushing the envelope of what they'd ever been able to do with another kid, constantly exhilarated that the other guy wasn't getting angry or falling down crying.

What fascinated us all was that the boys would respect each other's limits within the context of their battle. They were wailing on each other while pretending they were Superheroes in a movie. When one had enough he'd say "Pause the movie" and the other would stop; they'd both sit, regain their gumption and then renew their attack. This went on for a long while, until someone got a bloody lip and didn't notice. The other fellow did, stopped, and waited for the wailing which didn't come.

"Why did you stop?" Lip asked.

"Uh, you're bleeding," came the response. Cue the wailing.

Our quick jaunt to the beach culminated in 7 hours of beaching-it, with wading, swimming, wrestling and cliff-diving. It was worthy of last year's homeschool scout / lunch on Wednesday tribe and it felt good. The kids had a blast and the Moms could sense the inevitable approach of a regular capacity to have an uninterrupted conversation.

Pause the movie-- the long, boring winter movie. I call Season Open!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The rest of the world is on Spring Break

And it seems pretty timely. Last week it spent all week cold and overcast, alternating rain, snow, sleet and hail. It was March going out with a BANG. In like a lion, out like a lamb? Try direct OPPOSITE of that.

This week, the sun has returned, and yesterday it got up to 56 in our little locale. The guests staying with us finally got to see the Mountain, and my tight grip on my garden fever is slipping exponentially every day.

So, my kids are playing with everyone else this week; homeschoolers and bussers alike are all on a level playing field right now, finally enjoying the outside sunshine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Yellow Stripe

With friends and family cheering her on, G-girl got her first color belt in karate. She was cool as a cucumber out there, totally enjoying the exhibition.

But as soon as she got her new belt, she was off to run to her Mommy. I love that, to this day. She's not SO big yet. Sorry, Sensei, to have our family sully your belt line. Tee hee.

I like the mirrors in the Dojo-- in these pictures you can see Uncle Monkey and P-daddy amongst the spectators.

And then Daddy made a special cake for the celebration.