Thursday, April 30, 2009

Documentation, Should There Be a Commute-Related Incident

Here is the cake I made for my co-worker's baby shower tomorrow. I planned and planned how I would make this thing work and in the end nearly every decision I made was based on correcting some earlier misstep. Still, I'm reasonably pleased with the results and somewhat panicked about getting the thing from my refrigerator to the office tomorrow.
The cake topper is pacifiers. We're having a difficult time getting Sarah to give hers up when she's at home. Difficult insomuch as we are hardly trying at all. She goes all day without, will go out and about in the world without it, but likes to find her blanket and her paci as soon as we get home from daycare. When she saw the pacifiers I'd purchased for the cake she got so excited, her face beamed when she said "are those for me?". I was impressed with how well she took the bad news. I took the pacifiers out of their packaging last night to play around with how I wanted to arrange them. I was going for a sort of bouquet... I left them all in the middle of the dining room table and today at different moments Jeremiah and I both caught Sarah sitting at the table, staring at the pile of pacifiers. What's up with that?

Yes, that is a roll of toilet paper on the table. Don't judge us. You don't know us.

Naked and High

Last weekend we cleaned out the shed because it's about to get a make-over. It was hot work. The girls grew weary of playing in the sun while we pulled all the stuff out of the out-building. Then, as if to intentionally torture them, we stood around our empty yard and took pictures. We wanted photos to help us decide what to plant where. The girls tried, unsuccessfully, to get our attention. Then, we planted our very first tree - a tea olive. See? Cute right? We're hoping it will prosper and fill the yard with its sweetness come late summer/early autumn. By hole-digging time the girls had stripped off all their clothes. By mulch-laying time, they were literally climbing the walls.

My feeling was that, while the kitchen was now filled with the toys from their playroom and nearly impassable, and they were climbing on the furniture and countertops and probably getting their snot on everything at least they weren't setting stuff on fire while we ignored them.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chicks in the City

I love chickens. I have always found them inherently funny. Also, I love to eat them and their eggs. But mostly I love to watch them. Apparently, I am not alone. Today was the Chicks in the City tour of urban chicken coops, sponsored by the Oakhurst Community Garden. Isn't the flier delightful? I volunteered to sell tickets for a couple hours. When I arrived, over 100 tickets had already been purchased online, and we had a throng of chicken enthusiasts waiting in line to buy their tickets. CNN showed up and I'm told channel 11 had been by earlier. Seriously, CNN. When you've got to fill 24 hours, though, I can see how you'd be willing to send a crew out for the chickens.

I missed last night's Coop Crawl for the hosts and volunteers because I was at work too long and Kate's been sick; I felt the need to stay close to home. So the volunteer coordinator on this, Claire, sent me away around 3:30 so I could take in a few coops. I rushed home in the remarkable heat (it was 87 degrees outside!) and grabbed Sarah (Kate's fever had returned). We only made it to one coop, the swankest one, about a block from our house, before Sarah decided she wasn't feelin' it. What a drag.

The house we hit was great, though, because they'd also just hatched some baby ducks and there were fish in a tiny little fountain by which Sarah was fascinated. She preferred the fish to the ducks and the chickens, in fact. They were beautiful, though, those chickens in the mist.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There

We started the project on our house over a year ago. In fact, the framing for the addition went up on the day of the downtown tornado last March. The inside is complete. The outside...oye. Our yard has been one, big construction site all this time.

Finally, the process to make it a living space has begun! In events that may or may not really be ironic, the large construction waste bins parked in our front yard have effectively turned that area into an even nastier construction site than the back once was. Still, the back is were my focus currently lies.

They came out, did a bit of grading where the retaining wall and patio needed to go and poured the walls.

After the walls cured a bit they came back, took the footers off, poured the patio and did more grading. They knocked down the rat-infested wilderness behind the shed.

It's glorious. It's mud, but still. I'm tickled pink or, more accurately, I'm tickled the persistent orange hue of red Georgia clay and so's the dog.

A Child I Can Be Proud Of...Er...I mean...A Child of Whom I Can Be Proud

Yesterday I worked from home because Kate is sick. Poor thing, but that's not what this is about. Because I was home I opted to walk over to daycare to pick up Sarah. It was beautiful out and I figured the sickie could manage to just sit in the stroller (she was very good at it, in fact).

On the way home the girls were chatty, chatty, chatty. I mostly listened as they talked, sang, yelled at each other. I think I would be a good Middle East peace broker. When things got nasty in the stroller they're really too big to share anymore I said "work it out girls, you have to share that space so deal" and they did. See that Jews and Arabs?

As we approached the driveway Sarah said "Daddy's home!" He wasn't. I delivered the crushing blow. Then Sarah said "Well where's he at?" That's when it happened. Kate said "Sarah, it's 'where is he'" I nearly cried I was so happy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Camp-Out! (Fail)

We decided we should do a trial run of sleeping outside in a tent before we whisk the girls off to do the real thing in the woods. With the bears. Kate's very concerned about the bears. We should stop letting her watch Colbert. For the first go, we decided to camp over at Aunt Jo Jo and Uncle Steve's. We'd have employed our own yard, except it looked like this (more on this later, you may notice its current state is one of progress!)

So, We gathered up all the camping gear and some of the not-camping gear (to make the tent more home-like) and off we went to the wilds of Third Avenue. Kate loved helping me set up the tent. Both girls loved getting in the tent, in their styly sleeping bags and snuggling in. They also both loved the cook-out and making s'mores by the fire. We let them stay up too late and eat too much sugar. The we allowed Sarah to insist that everyone "get up get up it's circle time!" and "now, hold hands...ring around the rosie!" twice. That kid is so freakin' bossy.

Then it was time to bed down. We lit the lantern and herded the girls into their tent. First, they couldn't decide on the best position. Then, there was the fighting about the lantern ("on!" versus "too bright!"). Then, just when I thought we'd pulled it off, came the inevitable. "I don't want to sleep out here! I'm scared! I want to sleep inside in a bed." My kids turned out to be bigger marshmallows than the ones they'd toasted and crammed in their whiny s'mores holes. Some parents would be appalled to have a child who's a criminal or maybe a trannie. I'm equally put off by the idea of non-camping children. We let them come in, though, because it wouldn't be much fun for them if I forced them to stay in the tent. However, we're still taking them camping for real and out there, the options will be to sleep in the tent or out under the sky. With the bears.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Highlights

Today the girls awoke to find that the Easter Bunny had remembered to stop at our house (this is, in fact, a first.) They brought their baskets filled with goodies with them into our room to show us what they'd received. Well, minus a couple pieces of candy. And Sarah's pants. Kate named her new lamb Larry and Sarah remains undecided on her bunny's name.

I baked dinner rolls and a cake and we brought them over to the Breault household, where there was a great deal of merry-making and food consumption. All the children ate their own body weight in candy and then had some cake for dessert. The egg hunt was everything an Easter egg hunt is cracked up to be, complete with thoroughly chocolate-covered cherubic faces.

Duke's Creek Falls

I'd been watching the weather all week and Saturday promised to be lovely. We planned to take the girls hiking. It's tricky planning a hike for a 2 and 4-year-old because they are so tiny. You really can't go on a long hike. We decided we'd go for the big reward (giant tumbling waterfall) instead of just rambling around the woods all day. Duke's Creek is up by Helen, the oddly German tourist town in the middle of Nowhere, GA. It would take us over an hour to drive there. The hike itself was 2 miles round trip. No matter, we want Kate and Sarah to develop a love of hiking.

Saturday morning arrived. I got up and took Lola on our usual 3-mile walk, because she's just too dang naughty around strange dogs on the trail to get to go with us and the kids. I felt bad for leaving her behind. A little. When I got home we got the girls dressed and psyched for a walk in the woods. We explained that (due to lack of time or sufficient planning) we needed to stop by Whole Foods to get our picnic lunch together, then we'd head to the mountains. Kate decided she wanted to bring her princess lunchbox to house her picnic lunch.

"Will you please get my lunchbox down [from the big, tall cabinet where it lives]?" she entreated her father. "And don't fill it up with beer, either! I will not think that's funny." I thought that was very funny. Jeremiah confessed to me that he'd used it once to transport cold beer when he didn't feel like going upstairs to get a proper cooler. So hiking clothing was applied ("can't I wear a hiking dress?" Kate asked.) and we all headed out into the world. By noon we arrived at the Smithingall Woods visitor center.

The visitor center is very nice. The girls were thrilled by the two live hawks and one horned owl who live out in the parking lot. They got to touch a red rat snake and a baby guinea pig (probably intended for the snake some day, we didn't ask). They also have a room filled with stuffed, real animals. A couple small bears, some foxes, a screech owl, river otter, beavers...I forget what else but we touched them all.

Finally we headed back out on the road to the trailhead, which was not to be found by the visitor center parking lot. By the time we arrived there we were all starving so we had lunch immediately. Then we hit the trail. I told Kate if she could walk the entire way herself she could have ice cream later. We allowed that Sarah would have earned ice cream if she made it even 1/3 of the way. Kate told me that, without a doubt, she would make it. "I'm kindergarten-ready!" she stoutly informed me. "Kindergartners go all the way!"

The trail to the falls is downhill the entire way. The girls frolicked like puppies and I worried about carrying Kate back up the hill. It's a beautiful trail. It's so well built that the place can host strollers and other walking aids. We saw people of all ages there. You catch glimpses of the falls the whole way down, which builds the anticipation. Kate and Sarah enjoyed all the bridges and large rocks as we made our descent. Sarah made it nearly to the falls before becoming too tired to walk anymore. Once we were there, however, she ran all over the 3 observation decks.

The falls truly are stunning. They're 250 feet high. It's amazing to think that this natural wonder is just the confluence of two creeks: Davis and Duke's. We hung out by the water for awhile and then, after Sarah fell for the second time, hitting her nose, we decided we'd better head back. Sarah rode in the backpack the whole way up. Kate walked. She stopped to rest several times. At one point she did ride on my shoulders, but it couldn't have been more than .10 of a mile, if it was even that much (thank GOD). As we neared the end of the trail she stopped more often. At one point, when we were mostly on the bridges, she got down on all fours and crawled. She never once complained though. She didn't stop going, either. She made it all the way back to the car. Jeremiah and I literally applauded her. "I want ice cream." she stated.

It took me 45 minutes to walk Lola 3 miles in the morning. It took us 6 hours to do a 2-mile hike, including travel, visitor center and dining time. As we rode home Sarah passed out hard in her carseat and Jeremiah called my attention to the fact that Kate had reached across the back seat and was holding Sarah's hand. Somehow, that little 2-mile jaunt left me as weary as a normal 8-mile dayhike might. We stopped at Mojo for pizza and then went to Nectarine, the new juice, etc shop in the Oakhurst Village, for ice cream, as promised. The kids objected wildly to being put to bed. They continued their protest for a few moments after we left them in their beds, then, like a switch was thrown, all was silent in their room.