Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mud kitchens, juggling unicyclists and trucks with bras

When we got back from camping I forced myself to buckle down for a week or two and work on some of the "projects" I brought home from grandma's in addition to some of the housework that had gotten neglected in all the packing and unpacking, which seems to be the new state of normal in the house.  As we were cleaning out the basement of the farmhouse someone brought up this water fountain and asked if I wanted it.  I assumed they were joking and I said "no" but was later convinced to reconsider as dad said something like "you could hook it up to the hose for the kids".  This indeed was a great idea, but as drinking from garden hoses is now frowned upon (especially by the state of CA), as is running drinking water through brass fittings, it was a giant pain in the butt to get all the pieces necessary.  After a million trips to a variety of home improvement stores we now have a water fountain installed off the front porch. 
 Once we had this installed I started to work on a "mud kitchen" for the kiddos.  A friend handed down an old play table to us last year that has been in my project pile so I fitted some scrap wood around a plastic under the bed box, created a back and some shelves with more scrap from our trailer project and added a variety of spoons and utensils from the farmhouse that were destin for goodwill.  We bought some "floppy pipe" as Matthew calls it for the drain on the water fountain so the kids can fill larger buckets or they can use the fountain itself.  Ideally, I put my watering cans underneath to catch to draining water but most of the time the kids then take those for their projects as well.  The first few days they were pretty tentative about it:
Both our yards need quite a bit of TLC but we've prioritized the front yard this year which is why the fountain and kitchen are out front.  Between this and their bikes the kids stay plenty busy while I tend to weeding, planting etc. or somedays just while I finish a good book.  The other day as I was deep into the ending of Ender's Game I hear Matthew say "Catherine's naked, can I be naked."  Sure enough, Catherine had stripped down and made quite a spectacle of the mud:


 While I'd say most adventures with the mud kitchen end like this, it still provides lots of pretend play and scene building:
 Which gave James and I plenty of time to landscape.  When we moved in, the previous owners/renters made a last ditch effort to add some curb appeal by putting in a series of dinky boxwoods in front of the porch.  Unfortunately, these boxwoods were behind the sprinkler system and never got much attention, and by about May they were generally overshadowed by the weeds in the bed.  Plus the border was haphazardly made from petrified wood which is a pain to mow and weedeat around.   After cleaning out the bed again I decided we'd go a different direction.  So we went from this (when we moved in):
To this:
We decided lattice would help keep stray animals (including our own cats) from hanging out under the porch but also gave it a nice clean line.  I hope that eventually it won't be as stark as it will be blocked by flowers.  They are all clumping perennials so hopefully, they will fill in over time.
 In my desire to grow both something edible in addition to something with color, I took out the two planter boxes in front of the driveway and replaced them with pots filled with herbs.  We've only had a chance to enjoy the cilantro but the plant I bought was less than the cost of cilantro at the store so even if it dies we got our money's worth.

In addition to mud and yard work, we snuck out to the splash park the other week with some friends.  The kids were ecstatic to be going but once there it took a while for them to warm up (or warm up enough literally that they needed to cool down!):

 Mr. Baywatch:
 And Catherine and her surprise face:
In other excitement, when we bought our camper the previous owner didn't have the keys.  This was not inherently a problem to us from a safety/security perspective but without being fully locked the trailer door had a tendency to bounce open and drop our belongings on the highway.  This was again not a huge problem as it could be easily solved with duct tape.  However, once the sun started to hit the camper, hot, sticky, messy duct tape was a problem so we headed to the locksmith.  Long story short, during visit #1 to the locksmith we determined I might need to replace the whole lock and we agreed I would go back to the duct tape solution to get us through the July 4th weekend.  That evening I invited friends over to hang out on the deck, realized I had a wasp problem and headed to the camper to get some wasp spray.  In fiddling with the door I managed to lock us out of the camper, the day before our next big trip.  Luckily my fiddling had unstuck the pin and we were able to go the next day to have our lock picked and a new key made.  The locksmith was great and gave the kids blanks to play with.  They had lots of fun "helping":
 Once we could finish our packing, we got ready for our trip and then headed down to Livingston with some friends for their 4th of July parade, conveniently held on the 2nd to kick off their rodeo.  It was crazy hot and we were all a little to late to snag a spot on the shady side of the road.  The kids were troopers:
 And there was your standard parade fare, trucks with bras:
 Shriner clowns:
 Juggling unicyclists:
Biking chickens:
 And of course, the odd small town pride of any town along any highway in MT, ID or WY that might lead to Yellowstone:
 And of course, candy!
 The kids made out fairly well and I even came home with some new toothpaste and toilet paper from the parade (a sign of recession?).  Toward the end with buckets full of candy we kept sending them back into the shade:
 It worked out perfectly to attend this parade as we didn't end up attending a parade on our Glacier camping adventure like we had planned.

And some random videos that have been hanging around my phone.  One night when we did our Bedtime Math ( it was about the Seattle library's domino effect and Matthew really wanted to duplicate it.  Here was his attempt:

And this one is from our trip to Virginia I think.  A few months ago we checked out the "All God's Critters" book from the library.  The kiddos love it and after enough repetitions Matthew can pretty much sing the whole thing, but as he has been exploring his own sense of humor he often changes the words to songs:

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