The Month of August

Gretchen came back from St. George knowing how to play Battleship and she loves it.  In general she loves to play games.  She kept talking about it the whole way back from St. George and was disappointed when we couldn’t stop at a store right then to buy the game.  I think we went out the day after we got home to buy it.  It’s actually not as above her head as I thought.  She has beaten Steve at least once too.

Alternately, Wes got a late b-day present of a duplo fire truck when we were in St. George and I wouldn’t let him take it out there because I was worried about losing the pieces and he talked about that the whole way home and was disappointed that we wouldn’t put it together when we got home at 10pm that night.  He remembered the next morning; he was on top of it asking to get it out before he had even eaten breakfast.

Due to the lack of pictures I took, we must not have done too many exciting things in August.  We dinked around in the yard and probably went swimming.  It’s all a blur.  I’m sure the kids did cute things I should have recorded and didn’t.

There were still boxes in the house

Working in the yard

Working with his truck

The major event for the month was Gretchen starting Kindergarten.

She was very excited, until she got there, or course.  We walked her in for her first day and it was mass chaos because every single parent/grandparent etc was there to see their child to class as well.  And they hung around.  It was ridiculous, the poor kids couldn’t even walk around the room to find their name to sit down.  Seriously people, back off.  So Gretchen got nervous, it was too much activity for her.  We didn’t stay until the bell rang like everyone else, we picked a moment when she wasn’t about to cry and left.

Outside her classroom

Sitting at her spot

And then the bomb drops, here’s the way this all started to work.  Gretchen starts Kindergarten and the first day I have two hours’ worth of homework.  I am going to be in so much trouble when I have more kids in school.   All the forms she brought home that needed to be filled out for the next day.  I don’t know what parents of multiple school children do.  It was crazy.  And the homework she has is driving me crazy.  She’s in Kindergarten, why does she have homework?  Poetry is due every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; Handwriting is due on Friday; Guided reading is 20 minutes every day; she has a monthly activity form that’s due at the end of every month; storytelling comes home over the weekend and the folder needs to go back on Monday; I have to sign her daily folder every day and sign the weekend folder on the weekends; book orders; and whatever else miscellaneous stuff she brings home to complete.  Holy cow, it’s ridiculous, I had to get an app on my phone to start tracking all of HER due dates and activities.  I’m DONE with school; I’m not the one going back.  Then came the color songs, we needed to listen to them every night and she needed to wear specific colors on specific days. And camouflage on this day and this day brown so she can be an Indian, black and white to be a pilgrim, it’s crazy.  A child this age is totally incapable of tracking all this themselves.  And then I feel like I am buying something every week to donate to the class, we need rolos for our project and we don’t have the budget for it, please send in four lemons, a bag of pretzels, we need tulle, Friday treats, donations for this party, toy drives, pj drives, present drives, box tops…etc.  She’s just finally learned the days of the week, there should be some rule where they can’t assign homework until they have an understanding of due dates and days of the week.

Not to mention the parades, she’s had three parades so far where the Kindergartners merely walk the halls while the parents ooh and ahh and take pictures and the other kids sit in the hallways and watch.  I have no idea what the purpose is unless it’s to help them not be shy.  The first was a bear parade, they brought in a favorite bear and carried it through the halls.  The next was the Monster parade, they made paper bag masks and the third was a literacy day parade where they were supposed to have a costume that showed the meaning of a word they picked out, this one was a week after Halloween and I thought was ridiculous (not that they get to pick the day literacy day is) but I had JUST finished making a handmade costume for Halloween I didn’t want to turn around and make something for a word.  So I picked Phantasmagoric for her and she went as a fairy, the same as her Halloween costume.

It just complicates the night tremendously because she comes home and she is exhausted.  It’s all day Kindergarten and they don’t do a single rest time.  And they only get ONE recess.  Why can’t kids be kids anymore?  She goes to after school care at the daycare and they are supposed to help her with her homework but half the time she rushes through so she can play and they don’t correct her.   So she comes home super tired and here I am erasing her homework, making her do it again, while trying to make dinner AND listen to her get all frustrated as I have her do it a third time or she “can’t” do it or whatever because she gives up so easily because she’s TIRED.   I know her teacher doesn’t agree with it, she’s said she thinks homework at this age is wrong but they team teach and she doesn’t have a choice.  The issue is, she’s in the minority because she has kids and all the other teachers are straight out of college and have some warped sense that five year olds are old and mature and are learning machines.  Well they are learning machines and this may be good for her, but it really sucks for me.  I did have a stint where I had her read her guided reading books to Wesley at night, Gretchen really got into it and excited, which was great for me, it killed two birds with one stone but she had the same books for like two weeks straight and both kids got super bored with them and Wes wanted to go back to Monster trucks.

Gretchen LOVES Kindergarten, but she matured in a day.  She’s asking questions about things I have sheltered her from on purpose.  There was a night she started dancing around singing “I’m sexy and I know it.”  (Coincidentally while she was taking her clothes off to get in the bath, completely not intentional) She doesn’t even know what it means.  I told her not to sing that and of course she’s like why?  Or the day she asked me if she can stick up her middle finger.  YOU’RE five!  You don’t even ride the bus, how do you know this.  I thought we would be better off because we live within the radius that we have to drop her off but apparently not.  And then came the barrage of comments about this boy at school.  At first she wanted me to always braid her hair because he might not recognize her without the braid because when he first met her she had a braid (he’s in her class and sees her every day, it’s not like he’s a stranger who passes her in the hallway between classes).  And then it was Caleb says he likes my hair not in a braid.  And then it was Caleb sat next to me at rug time I think it’s because he thinks I’m beautiful…WHAT?!?!  YOU ARE FIVE.  It’s RUG time.  And the day she came home all sad because Caleb played with some soccer friends at recess.  I was like, were they boys?   She said yes and I said GOOD he needs to play with other boys.  And she was all like Whhhhyyyyyy?

Her attitude increased as well.  I have to remind her often what she does with her friends is not what is appropriate with her parents.  For instance, she started this whole copying thing.  There was a period where she would come home and copy everything anyone was saying before I finally said, that is disrespectful and you will not do that to your parents.  (I went to the school one day to eat lunch with her, after her begging with me because the other mother’s do this often and lunch time was a disaster, she and her friends are copying each other left and right and fooling around, and I thought no wonder she copies so much this is all they do.)  Or other times when I ask her to do something or try to talk to her and her response is completely attitude.  Now that she is able to interact with kids with more freedom than she had at daycare they are banding together and forming their little anti-authority coup already.  Those rebels and they are infecting my sweet little girl!  But, this is all part of life, she’s now going to have to learn respect in a different way and how you talk and play with your friends is different than what you can do with adults and parents.  It’s part of learning to be a socially normal being.  It just drives me crazy sometimes.

And now I have to compete with other Mom’s and Families.  This was never a problem in daycare because every child was in daycare because both parents worked or their single parent worked, etc.  She never knew any different.  Now she sees a world of Mothers who can come and eat with their kids every day or can come and read to the class or just be more involved in the school.  I finally worked from home a day in November to eat lunch with her and read a book to her class.  And luckily the parades they do, which last a total of five minutes, happen in the morning and we are able to just go late into work so we can show our support because I know that is probably what is most important right now.

Posted in Gretchen, Wesley | Comments Off on The Month of August

The Month of July

In July my sister and family came for the long Fourth of July weekend.

The kids with Alexis…she’s obviously overwhelmed.

They attacked her with kisses

It was toasty but not as horrendous as it could have been.  Our neighborhood had a quaint little bike parade the morning of the 4th.  It was cute, I’ve never heard of one before.  All the kids decorate their bikes and they have a fire truck come and the kids just follow behind the fire truck up the street and back.

It started at 9 and was over by 10 which worked out well because it was before it got super hot.  Gretchen’s bike ended up winning the decorating contest…she was excited, but I meant to tell the judges to eliminate her bike as you can imagine who really did most of the work.  I felt bad the trophy was taken away from some kid who actually did decorate their bike.  We had gone to a decorating event the evening before but she spent most of her time watching the other kids than helping.  Steve decorated Wes’s truck and it looked pretty cute.  At least Wes helped more than Gretchen did.

Gretchen with her trophy

Wes and the neighbor girl taking a short cut.  He was having a hard time keeping up in his foot powered truck and her battery was dying.

Cute pictures from Auntie D’s visit:

In the trunk of the Leaf, it’s spacious

We had a mini photoshoot to get a good picture of the three together for my parents and I had my kids sit in to get the lighting right before we added Alexis, this was supposed to be a test shot, but it may be the best picture I have taken of the two of them.

The three together

Outfit change, Alexis was at the end of her rope

It turned into this:

Much happier in the pool:

After Danielle left I finally decided it was time to get rid of the pacifier.  It should have been gone a long time ago but there is never a good time.  I wanted him to keep it through the move to help him get adjusted but the daycare kind of half pushed it when they refused to let him keep it for naps (in my mind maybe some of the reason he had a hard time adjusting)  And I definitely wanted to do it before he moved to a big bed.  I was getting annoyed at how often it ended up downstairs or searching for it at night.  At this point Wes could actually climb in the crib and get it and so it was time.  The paci fairy came one night and left some trains and some track in its place.  Wes was not happy.  He threw a few fits at naps and at night, my favorite was when he threw his doggie blankie down in frustration and said “I want the doggie blanket fairy to come and take my doggie blanket” hehe.  He eventually calmed down about it but he hasn’t been the same since.  My three hour napper on the weekends has turned into a 1.5 hour napper and my easy to bed and asleep until 8am or later on the weekends has turned into a thrashing around in the bed until 9pm and up before Gretchen sleeper.  I now have to basically rock him to sleep at nap time in order to get him to take a nap.  It’s annoying but I am not giving up nap time.  And eventually we added a clock “that turns green” to help but he would basically just lay and wait until it turned green and then shout joyously that it was green when it turned green.

Gretchen got a butterfly house for her birthday so I finally ordered the larva at the end of June and then was immediately worried they would be through the whole process before we left for vacation at the end of July.  Apparently ordering butterflies in the middle of the summer in Houston is not a good idea.  By the time they got to us, and I was tracking them they ended up sitting around at the warehouse in North Houston for way too long, the larva had already cocooned and were hanging, something that was supposed to happen 1-2 weeks after receiving them.  And then the hatched about two days later, it was a pretty short cycle.  I need to order them again in the spring.  Gretchen enjoyed watching them eat the watermelon we gave them and then we released them.

Insert random cute picture, Wesley offering to “catch” Gretchen at the bottom of the slide at the playground down the street from us.

The kids got to see their first movie in a movie theater.

We went to see Despicable Me 2.  We went to the 10 am showing and it was not crowded at all.  I haven’t been to a movie at the theater in ages and it was SO loud, not sure if that is normal.  I was pretty worried about the kids hearing but they had a good time.  Wes sat with his hands covering his ears for a portion of the beginning and It was a bit scarier than the first one and at one point Gretchen freaked out and just wanted to leave but I had her just close her eyes.

Insert note to self…don’t leave Wesley alone with the dog while he’s painting:

Right before large trash pick-up I invited hte neighbor kids over for an impromptu painting party in our driveway, I figured it would be fun to paint the boxes before we trashed them.  It wasn’t as exciting as I thought.  I tried a few Pinterest discovered make your own paint recipes and they just didn’t work well on the boxes.

Wesley turned three on the 21st.

We had a small little party for him (which meant we knocked on the houses around us and invited whichever kids were home which turned out to be one out of four).

He wanted a spaceship cake with chocolate.  I made the cake from scratch recipe which wasn’t all that great but I made the chocolate icing I made for Steve’s birthday which is awesome.

The cake was cute; I guess it could have been misrepresented as a bell….but it looked like a rocket ship to Wes.  I also made Wes a birthday shirt which he LOVES.

He wears is ALL THE TIME.  I guess I did a good job.  It makes me feel good but the moon is simply an iron print out so it’s starting to wear from all the washing.  I’m not sure it will make it until he turns 4.  We gave him a bike with training wheels and a helmet and not really a moment too soon.  He’s really been getting into riding bikes.  He’s already faster than Gretchen on his two wheeler though he still loves his truck.

He got a train table from Auntie D:

Riding his bike for the first time

Somewhere in the month we decided to start a sticker chart for Wesley.  He was still being pretty unruly at daycare, with his friends and with property, so I thought maybe if we gave him clear expectations it would help him have a black and white line.  Sometimes kids just act up because they want to find the boundaries.  I also knew the sticker chart would not be as effective with Wes as it was with Gretchen.  The sticker chart with Gretchen was a complete attitude changer.  She loved sticker charts.  We did start a little bigger with Wes, he was older too.  Gretchen I may have started with 3 or 4 items and increased it but with Wes there really was six areas he needed to focus on.  1. Going potty first thing in the morning.  2.  Putting on his own underwear and pants (socks and shirts were too hard at the time and this was partly our fault too with him waking up so late, pre-paci removal, we would basically just do anything to get him out the door and weren’t giving him the oppurtunity to get dressed himself) 3. Taking a nap (now a big deal without a paci) 4. Being nice to his friends (this included no breaking toys) 5. No potty accidents (this turned out to be the toughest one and the one he missed at least one day a week for months, I think he just gets too busy)  6. Brush his own teeth (for some reason he would throw a fit everytime it was time to brush his teeth so I threw it on there to get more cooperation).  I printed a chart with pictures symbolizing the tasks and taped it to the mirror where he brushs his teeth every night and we would fill out the stickers all at once and just reiterate the expectations every day.  Anyway, it did take him a while to latch on.  He missed things so much in the first few weeks, he just has a need in him to buck the system.  But what I didn’t anticipate was Gretchen being his biggest champion.  When he finally made a whole day’s worth of stickers she got SO excited.  She helped him pick out his prize.  She cheered him on when he needed a reminder about a task.  She really got into it.  She was also very disappointed she didn’t have a sticker chart.  I attempted to convert her over to a quarter system where she gets 14 quarters at the beginning of the week and she has three tasks to do every day.  If she doens’t do a task I take a quarter and she gets all the money at the end of the week.  It did get her to make her bed and keep her room a bit cleaner and for while she was helping me set the table (her three tasks) but the money concept still doesn’t mean anything to her because it got to hard taking her to the store saying “you only have $3” and everything being $30.  I tried the dollar store one week, but that stuff is such crap.  So I don’t know if the sticker chart helped Wesley or not with his behavior, all I know is it couldn’t have hurt.  It wasn’t the light switch like it was with Gretchen but he did slowly improve in the next month or so.  Consistency is really key with him, if you never waver you are good but if you get lazy or give in or something, you have to start from scratch again.  He’s fine with lines, they just have to be solid and clear.

Then at the end of the month we took a trip to St. George Island, FL for a vacation with Steve’s entire immediate family.  There were eleven adults and 10 kids (ages 9 to 3 mos.) in a giant house with a pool on the beach.

It was mass chaos, but it was fun.  Gretchen always has a great time playing with her cousins.  In a few years Wes will be tearing it up with the two boy cousins his age, on this trip it was more helping them share.  They had a favorite car that kept making issues.

Wes playing with Hilary in the sand

Lucas displaying the car hoarding behavior

The girls fawning over Graeme

Wes with Bompa

Cute picture of Wes and Lucas

The three boys

Wes and Grant sitting around in the pool

This is the first vacation we’ve had with his family that we’ve been able to drive to.  It was about 12 hours from our house but the plane ride would have taken close to the same amount of time because there isn’t a convenient airport near St. George Island.  We left on Friday and broke it up into two days of driving.  This was also really the first long trip in the car for the kids.  They did awesome.  At first they really were content to just look out the window.  In Alaska there aren’t really any highways so they never had an opportunity to see the masses of cars and transportation on the highways.  These things which I have always taken for granted or maybe a child that has grown up with takes for granted.  Wes loved the trucks especially the car carriers and the tractors on the side of the road or construction equipment he got so excited every time.  And the bridges fascinated them which was hilarious.  Every time we would go over a bridge they would shout “Hi everyone that’s down there.”  We made it there and back (we came back all in one day though the kids were SUPER disappointed we weren’t staying in a hotel even though on the way there we got into the hotel so late we basically picked them out of the car and laid them in bed without them knowing what was happening) without them watching a single movie on the ipad.  This to me is an accomplishment.  I am so anti-movies in cars; I want my kids to learn to entertain themselves in the car like I did.  I know that’s reasonable in this day in age.  And part of the reason we made it is because the kids don’t know it’s an option so they don’t ask.

The pool, as always, was a big hit.

We definitely spent more time there than swimming in the ocean even though the ocean was SO warm.  This was my first time on the gulf and I can’t believe how warm the water was.  Gretchen really made some strides on her swimming and we were able to take the bubble off and she could swim a few strokes, which turned in to her declaring she knows how to swim, except she still won’t put her face in.  It’s dangerous in a way because I keep asking her if she wants to take swimming lessons and she says, but I already know how to swim.

Gretchen jumping without her bubble on

Wes did pretty awesome too, all we had to do was give him a noodle and he would kick around.

We attempted to do our own photoshoot instead of paying an arm and a leg to have someone come on site.  It actually worked out very well and wouldn’t you know the first picture taken of the group shot was the best.

Cute one of the girls

Grandparent shot and me playing around with photoshop

our best family shot

 

They tried a throw your small child into the air shot but Ryan’s the only one that knows how to toss a child.

And then things got foolish

Ice cream on the last night:

 

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Posted in Gretchen, Texas, Trips/Vacations, Visitors, Wesley | Comments Off on The Month of July

The Month of June

I’m not going to lie, June was a pretty rough month.  June was the month where we began our task of getting adjusted and settled in our house.  We still had a ton of boxes to unpack and a large quantity of stuff to find places for.  Which you wouldn’t think would be a hard project since we bought a house of similar size.  The biggest dilemma is we no longer had a gorgeous crawl space to store misc. things and the one place where we have room to store all the storage stuff is our attic, which is not somewhere you want to put anything that can melt, become brittle or rendered inoperable by extreme heat or be eaten by rodents/silverfish/rats and whatever other stupid critters exist in this area.  That pretty much narrows down to everything we own that would need a storage spot.  The garage is also out because that is the one area we did downsize from Kenai and it was so full of boxes and large equipment that there wasn’t even room for Steve to unpack his stuff.  At one point our neighbor informed us even paint couldn’t be stored in the garage if we ever wanted to be able to use it for touch-ups which just meant finding room to park more stuff in the house.

And I, for some reason, have an organization deficiency.  And Steve does too to exasperate the matter.  The two of us combined are like human tornados if things don’t have a clear spot.  Our method of organizing is to just move things from one spot to another spot that is out of the way at the time and then move it again when it becomes in the way again.  I blame this all on the fact that I never in my life had to move.  My room was my room for my whole life growing up, I never had to rearrange or find places for anything.  The real example that I always go back to in my mind was the day I attempted to move in at college.  This is a daunting task to start because the rooms are always super small and you are sharing them with someone else.  Luckily my sister was there.  I remember standing in the room, looking around having no clue where to start, feeling frustrated and my sister just started putting things away for me.  She unpacked me and organized it all.  I can maintain organization once in place and even make modifications but when I have to start from scratch; it either never gets done or never works out.

And take the kitchen for instance.  This is really the first main area of concern whenever we move.  I have yet to move myself into a kitchen that isn’t rearranged at some point by our Mothers.  I remember in Findlay the first time my Mother and Steve’s Mother were in the house at the same time all they could talk about was how the function in the kitchen was all off.  I was like, go ahead, make it how you think it should be.  I knew it was terrible and didn’t know how to fix it.  I think I improved some with the kitchen in Kenai, but one of the Mothers’s spent some time rearranging.  I should have been getting better by this move, but the issues were I was going from a beautiful large kitchen with tons of cabinet space, plus a wet bar area with more cabinet space to a much smaller kitchen here and a pantry which I have never had before.  I’ve always dreamed of a nicely organized large pantry but when finally presented with one I had no idea where to start.

I spent the first two weeks of June basically digging through a giant box of kitchen utensils (some of them sharp) every time I needed a spatula or a serving spoon or something.  I had pretty much just found a spot for the dishes, cups and silverware and everything else was still in their boxes.  We were literally pulling it out of the dishwasher and putting the dried items back in the boxes.  It also didn’t help that the movers’ labeling of the boxes was horrible.  Seriously, have I complained about this in a previous post?  When I went to look for cups, I found dishes in the box labeled glasses and when I went for plates I found pots in the box marked dishes, it was crazy.  There were many, many times in the few weeks I couldn’t find something and had to improvise yet I still did nothing about it.  I just dealt with it.  It was easier that way.  (did I talk about the day I finally had a can I had to open and I couldn’t find the can opener so I googled how to open a can without a can opener?  It took me 20 minutes to get the stupid cans open)

The kids finally had the chance to have a steady schedule without giant interruptions which was supposed to help with their transition and it didn’t at all.  Gretchen started doing okay but Wes was horrible.  He was biting again, having tons of potty accidents, not listening to his teachers, breaking toys.  It got to the point where I didn’t even want to pick him up because the teacher never had anything good to say about him and I swear when they would tell me whatever they would bore their eyes into me like I was supposed to impose some punishment on him on the spot.  But really, it’s beyond the point now, if you dealt with it at the time and if you’re consistent, he’ll improve, I promise.  It got to the point that we couldn’t drop off without one of the kids flipping out.  They always took turns.  There were some mornings I left Gretchen and the lady was holding her down while she was flailing in the chair.  It was pretty awful.  I started considering other daycares thinking maybe this just wasn’t the right place but I was so hesitant to move Gretchen when she was just going to be going to Kindergarten soon and this daycare was SO convenient it is literally located right next to her school.   This issue spanned several months, it wasn’t just June.  I honestly don’t remember what month it all got better, but it did, not to spoil the ending, but who knows when I’ll get the subsequent months posted anyway.  Plus at this point all the summer months ran together.  I’m thinking things improved when Wes transitioned into the Primary class which is structured like a preschool and the real root of the Montessori program when they start to work with the learning toys and do more structured learning.  I think for him it was a cross between his need to test authority and being bored.  We have the same issues at home, we try to anticipate when he’s getting bored (indicated by either throwing things, beating up Gretchen, tackling the dogs or in general being a crazy boy) and changing the scenery whether it’s taking him outside or giving him something else to concentrate on.  I think once he started being challenged during the day he got better.

Then there was the traffic and the heat.  I think June was the hottest month.  It could have been because this was a serious adjustment month but we had about two weeks where I swear it didn’t get below 100.  It was awful.

June 29th

Our first disappointment was pool temperatures went up with the heat too.  The pools, even though they were fairly big, felt just as hot as the air.  We couldn’t even go to the pool and cool down.  This, of course, spoiled the kids and later in the summer when the temps actually cooled down they would complain getting in even though the water temperature was probably still about 85.  But we had fun exploring the pools in our area.  Our Home Owners Association has 10 pools to pick from.  We quickly found out the awesome pool by our house with the lazy river and huge slide was always super crowded.  We started going to a cute little kiddie pool early in the mornings on Saturday and it was pretty fun.

The kids liked that one, it was shallow, had a mushroom and a slide Gretchen could go down herself.  We also bought a cheap blow-up pool and started enjoying that in our driveway.  One nice thing about Texas is the water isn’t real cold from the hose so we could fill up the pool and have instant relief instead of having to wait for the sun to warm it up enough to not feel like you’re getting hypothermia soaking in the pool.

Steve on Father’s day:

And for a quick fix (or the redneck way, whatever you want to call it), there’s always the wonderful in lawn sprinklers, no set-up no tear down, just flip the switch and let them run around.

But wait there’s more…I was pregnant.  This is all public knowledge now, I wouldn’t have blogged about it then, but every night, after dealing with traffic, formal office life, Hellish heat, the inquisition at daycare, attempting to generate a meal in an inefficient kitchen and getting the kids in bed, all I had the energy for was sitting on the couch dreaming about a nicely unpacked house.  At first I thought it was the heat, because the heat just totally zaps me, but then I realized this was a special exhaustion.  And finally I thought, I haven’t been this exhausted since I didn’t know I was pregnant with Wes.  That also happened soon after we had moved in in Kenai, though I don’t remember unpacking in Kenai being this horrible.  Granted we only had one child, a 15 month old and had doubled our square footage in the house and had a crawl space.

Compound all that together with two adults who are not quite motivated and two kids who can’t keep their LITTLE HANDS off anything and break things or move things so you can’t find them as you are unpacking and what you get is a house that never got organized.  (For a side story on that that spans a few months and is actually still ongoing….we have a desk, it’s pretty big and we don’t think it really fits in our house and will want to get rid of it but decided to get it set up so we can at least get the desk items organized and put in a spot and we’ll move them around when we find a different solution.  We get all the pieces out and can’t find the hardware.  We searched and searched because the movers for this move were so lousy, the movers in Findlay had a box and they put ALL the hardware for everything in the box and it was the last box loaded and the first box off and we set that box in a special place and found everything we needed when we needed it.  Not the Kenai movers, the hardware ended up wherever.  It was very frustrating.  A month goes by, at some point the kids started playing with the pieces of the desk, using a cabinet door as a shield, and Wes started using the two legs as swords/weapons causing harm so I had to take them away and put them somewhere up high out of his reach which was not with the rest of our desk.  At some still later date we randomly find the hardware for the desk (I was actually within inches of calling the manufacturer to buy the hardware).  I get super excited and Steve goes to put the desk together and we can’t find the two STINKING legs.  They are NO WHERE to be found.  We still have not found them to this day.  I think my “out of the way spot” was an open box we were stuffing trash paper in and we accidentally just pushed a ton of paper on top, smashed it down and because that stuff packs so tightly had no clue we were smashing in the legs.  That is my only explanation.  So we still have pieces of a desk, hardware and boxes of unorganized desk items.  I have to dig every time I need the stapler, tape, push pins, elastics, paper clips…etc.  It’s pretty frustrating)

Our VERY first weekend back (as in the day I got back with the kids, two days after getting out of the RV) we had our first run-in with a snake in our backyard.  Steve found it.  It was about 9pm at night, under the backyard lights, he went to roll up the hose or pull out the hose I can’t remember and the snake was apparently right underneath the hose, it totally blended in until it moved and Steve was pretty much right on top of it.  It freaked us out.  Unfortunately, our patio was super crowded with furniture because we didn’t have everything set up yet and the snake slithered behind the furniture up against our house.  We exposed the snake and spent maybe the next 30 minutes debating what to do about it.  I was ready to bash its head in with a shovel but we were both worried about how close we could really get to it.  Not really having any dealings with snakes at all we had no idea how far it could strike.  My next suggestion was to pummel it with bricks but Steve vetoed that because there was no way we weren’t going to take out a window in the process.  Eventually I called a pest service and decided to have someone come out and remove it.  It took about 45 minutes for him to show up, we sat there the whole time watching it to make sure it didn’t move.  It curled up right next to the door to our bedroom.  Steve said he wouldn’t be able to sleep if it wasn’t removed.  The guy shows up and attempts to bag it because they are supposed to take them alive but the thing wasn’t cooperating and that paired with the fact that it had very similar markings to a water moccasin which is one of the four common poisonous snakes in the area, he ended up having to take it out to the street and bash it’s head in anyway.  As it turned out when the expert looked at the dead body a few days later it was a diamonded back water snake (nonvenomous but aggressive).  But when you look at the pictures of that snake that is not what it looked like.  It looked like a water Moccasin.  Five hundred dollars later, the cost of a house call after hours for snake removal, at 11:15pm we were able to go to bed.

Then the next day I was coming home from an errand and Steve called, there is another snake in the yard.  This time under our grill cover.

It was Sunday afternoon, we had the pool on the patio, the kids were playing in it and Indigo found it and chased it under the pool the kids were playing in and underneath the grill cover.  Steve told the kids to get in the house while he rounded up the dogs.  Apparently Gretchen was like “Daddy what is it?  Is it a bear?”  “No, it’s not a bear.”  “Is it a moose?”  “No it’s not a moose?”  “What is it?”  hehe…  No, it’s just an itty bitty snake.  I got home and was on the phone with the pest control when the snake popped its head out and began to move on.  We decided it wasn’t worth another $500.  When it moved out into the yard I took matters into my own hands and started with plan B from the night before and pummeled it with landscaping rocks.  Steve, Mr. Skeptical didn’t think it would work but my first one hit square on.  I hit it a few times before Steve decided to try and he got a direct hit to the head and put it out of its misery.  I honestly felt bad.  I don’t really like to kill anything especially since I knew with a degree of certainty that this snake wasn’t venomous.  It turned out to be a broad striped water snake and a pretty common snake.  That was the weekend of the snakes.  We have since paid someone to spray our yard with snake repellent and found some to buy online and plan to spray in the spring and fall when the snakes supposedly come to the house to get warmth from the foundation.

Since then the only snake we have seen was a baby one that somehow got in our house.  Not as scary.  I don’t remember what month that was but I had some towels on the kitchen floor to wipe the dogs’ paws off and I moved them to vacuum and when I picked them up I startled because the little snake started wiggling around.  I believe it was just a green striped garter snake and I was very tempted to just pick it up with my hands, and it would have been an easy kill but I scooped it up with a bucket and sent it sailing over our fence.  I told it not to press its luck by coming back.

I guess the good news of the month; we had a short notice, surprise visit from our neighbors from Findlay.  They passed through literally three days after we got back from our RV trek.  We got an email from them about a week before saying they were coming through Houston on their way to New Mexico and Colorado.  It was comically coincidental because at the time we were getting ready to drive through Colorado and New Mexico on our way to Houston, I think we got the email in Montana.  It was really great to see them, we hadn’t seen them is a couple years.  It was a really nice surprise and gave us something to look forward to when we returned to our house of disaster.

With Cathy and Lee

My Mother came specifically to help with the kitchen because I needed a Mother to help.  She was able to get me over my barrier and sort through the rest of the boxes and get them put away.  She started getting contact paper in and reworked the already disorganized pantry.  I can’t say that I continued the progress forward after she left, which kind of was the intent, but I haven’t regressed either.  It definitely helped a lot.  She was also there for our anniversary so Steve and I were able to go out and have a small date which was nice.

And after research and debates and decisions Steve finally picked a replacement for his truck (which we sold in Kenai), a Nissan Leaf, a fully electric car.  We got a two year lease, for a couple of reasons, one is the technology changes so fast and Steve LOVES to have the latest and greatest, and it is still pretty untried, no one really knows how long the battery lasts and the long term maintenance on one.  The price was right and we knew with pretty good certainty that we were going to have three kids in the near future and it’s a small car and may only work for a short time.  We’re hoping in two years they’ll have an electric minivan which can get at least 100 miles on a charge.  It’s a pretty neat car.  We’re actually enjoying it.  It is SO quiet and it gets us to and from work with no issues.  And the nicest thing…is not having to get gas.  Seriously, I never thought this would be a luxury but the few times I’ve had to get gas for my highlander has been a disaster.  The gas stations aren’t convenient and they are always crowded.  The first time I went to the Kroger gas station to get my fifty cent a gallon discount and it felt a bit like black Friday at Walmart trying to get a pump.

The kids have dubbed it the “mini car” it’s hilarious.  Wes was the one that named it.  After a few corrections that it wasn’t really a “mini” we realized we weren’t going to win.  From his perspective going from a giant truck to a little coupe…it is a mini car.  Wes still makes comments from time to time about not having a truck, which does make us sad.  But right now, we don’t need a truck; we really wouldn’t have any use.

Posted in Gretchen, Texas, Visitors, Wesley | Comments Off on The Month of June