Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Tucker


My newly-minted 7 year-old is keeping things close-lipped in these pictures, but if you saw his grin, he’s missing his two front teeth.  His favorite things now are sports, sports, and sports.  After his birthday party, he told me that his favorite part were the races—not the treasure hunt, obstacle course, cake, pinata, balloon fights, etc…  Anything that lets him run as fast as he can, and preferably win, is Tucker’s favorite right now.  He has decided that he wants to go to UVa and run on the track team for college, because you can win more medals and trophies in a sport like track than in a team sport like basketball, though he does plan on playing basketball professionally when he grows up.  One great thing about Tucker is that he does love to practice and doesn’t seem to mind putting in the work.  He loves to go out to the shed and workout with Austin. It took awhile, but Tucker is now a competent bike rider who likes to go fast (I do appreciate that he remains risk-averse…).  (Molly is thrilled to have Tucker’s smaller cast-off bike with training wheels.)

Tucker sometimes seems so old, but on his birthday he went to bed wearing new superman pajamas, clutching a helium balloon, totally excited about $20 worth of Matchbox car plastic tracks.  It made me thankful he’s not THAT big yet.

In terms of his party, I tried desperately to get him to take us up on an expedition to a UVa football game, or a waterpark, or a trampoline place (all offers included a friend) rather than doing a full-out party.  It didn’t work.  But we agreed on inviting 7 friends since he’s 7—of which only 5 could come.  Perfect number.  He had a great time, and I wasn’t scarred like last year.  But maybe next year the non-party option will be the winner??  I can hope, right?

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Day of School


Better late than never, but here are the pics from the kids’ first days of school.  Their first days happened nearly two weeks apart, since Molly is in preschool and Tucker is at the elementary school.  Molly was sulking during her pictures, so it was hard to get anything decent!

So far, Tucker seems to like first grade and his teacher.  In October they’ll start having parent volunteers so I feel like I’ll get a better sense for the class then, but mostly it sounds like a pretty seamless continuation of the end of kindergarten.  His bus pick-up was moved from 7:29 to 7:05 so I am driving him most days to school… that extra half hour means a lot a 7 am!

Molly mostly talks about how one girl in the class doesn’t listen.  She has two favorite friends that she will also talk about when pressed, but mostly I only hear about the girl that doesn’t listen (apparently, according to the preschool head, the not-listening-girl-situation is actually very bad).


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Outdoor Whimsy


The best project that happened by far this summer was the outdoor shower that Austin made (shown here sans door).  I had no idea how much it would get used, or how nice a feature it’d be, especially with this gorgeous view of the garden (when the door’s open, of course).


I got on an outdoor whimsy kick, after concluding that I don’t really enjoy playing with flowers very much because it is never done.  After I realized my problem with getting into flower gardening, I thought, well, why don’t I do some outdoor beautification projects that are one-time efforts?

So in addition to spreading a lot of mulch and building up our small stone edging in our entrance bed, I started on lots of little things, like making a little stone sculpture out of leftover rocks to hide an old decaying stump….


And a towel rack out of a stick and some knobs we had lying around…


and a bird bath out of the base of a lamp I got at the thrift store for $2 and a ceramic plate/bowl I got at the Habitat store for $1…


and some suncatchers out of melting Perler beads, either into circular baking pans or stringing them onto wire and melting them (the kids helped a lot with this one!)…


and some flowers out of drink cans to dress up the wall of the outdoor shower…


and some art for the porch out of the random bits of metal we’ve found around our house while gardening…


and some more art for the front porch…


and art for the side porch…


And a dragonfly that I made out of a table leg from The Habitat Store ($2) and some old fan blades from a dead ceiling fan….


A couple of our nature highlights from this summer include this big old black snake eating an egg.  (Pretty impressive! Note, the second picture is meant to show how long this dude was.)



And here is a snake just hatching out of its egg.  I was spreading mulch, and apparently our black snakes like to lay their eggs in the mulch.  As I spread the mulch I kept coming across these eggs.  One of them hatched about 30 seconds after I moved it from the mulch I was working on.  Black snakes when they’re little aren’t black, but are actually striped like this little guy.  The reason I know for sure they’re not copperheads (which as adults have much more similar markings to what this guy looks like now) is that copperheads are viviparous—give birth to live young—so no copperhead eggs.