Thursday, April 28, 2011

Playhouse Project: A week in review (and a good distraction)

My girls are coming this weekend!  Today in fact.  They will be here in 8 hours, 5 minutes.  I'm so excited!  These three girls are my oldest and dearest friends.  They came last year and surprised me.  You can read about it here.  I know the word epic is so overused but it truly was an epic weekend.  I can't wait for this one to start!  8 hours, 4 minutes...

I always work better with a little pressure and it still feels like forever till they get here so to kill some time and distract myself from making an eggplant lasagne, washing my kitchen floor and making up the beds downstairs I thought I would post on our playhouse progress.  Last week Hugh did a bit of work on it every day after work.  I meant to post this at the beginning of this week so when I say Monday I don't mean Easter Monday, I mean the one before.

MONDAY: We dropped the height of the lookout deck (on the right) because the kids really really really wanted monkey bars over a suspension bridge and monkey bars at that height would have literally been a death-defying feat to get across.  Hugh also built a step up to the slide since the slide we bought was for a higher deck.

TUESDAY: Hugh installed the slide, climbing wall thing and some stairs.

WEDNESDAY:  It took us (and by us I mean Hugh, my only job was to hold stuff again) forever to get the braces for the monkey bars up.  It's still a bit on the high side but we tested it out on the kids and no legs were broken. WINNING! 

THURSDAY: Finished the monkey bars and framed the roof of the playhouse deck.

FRIDAY: This would be Good Friday.  I had been up all Thursday night with a puking girl and when she got up at 8:00am to puke again I said to Hugh, "You're going to have to get this one." And then I went to the bathroom and started my own hours of torture.  Not exactly how I planned to spend the first warm sunny day of Spring.  A good friend came over and helped Hugh do both roofs and the railing on the lookout deck.

It's starting to really come together!  The kids are loving it.  They spent 8 hours outside the other day.  I couldn't believe it!  Speaking of 8 hours, the countdown is now at 7 hours, 5 minutes till the girls arrive!  Guess I better make that lasagne and wash my floor.  Thanks for the distraction!  Have a great weekend everyone. I know I will.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Passing on the LOVE

Please, please, please click here.

This is my friend Simone's blog on her photography website. 
Scroll down. 
Almost to the bottom. 
Did you see it? 

Tell me that didn't make you happy sigh and I will call you a LIAR!  Or Soulless.  Either or.  But I know I won't have to.  You'll see it, you'll sigh and we'll all agree that this woman is a brilliant, brilliant photographer.  Take a few minutes, go through her archives and you will be amazed at how beautifully emotive her photos are.

PS. Simone doesn't know I'm writing this.
PPS. If you stop by her site leave her some love, she'll be so glad to meet you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Talks I never imagined needing to have with my children

Yesterday I was at Wal-mart doing a return.  I was digging my receipts out of my wallet and glanced up to do the automatic child scan.  I only had Sebastian with me and he's pretty easy to keep track of so I glanced - he was just standing a couple of feet beside me - and went back to digging.  And then my mind registered what I had seen.  I gasped in shock and yelled, "SEBASTIAN!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

What I had seen, and was still seeing, was my three year old son standing very calmly beside me with his pants and underwear at his knees giving everyone a full monty.  HELLO!  I raced over to him and pulled up his pants, then alternated between asking him what on earth he was doing and telling him that pulling his pants down in public is not okay.  So. not. okay.  His response? "But Mom, I had to scratch my bum."


Officially had the talk that you don't need to pull down your pants to scratch your bum?  Check.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Playhouse Project: Day 1

As I mentioned last post, this was a project weekend for us.  Hugh borrowed a truck from work and went to pick up the wood for the playhouse on Friday evening.  When he got it home we had to clear a space in the garage for it as the garage is currently junk central.  This is where we stored the entire contents of our basement during our reno and we haven't brought anything except toys back into the basement since it's been finished.  We have a ton of sorting/organizing/purging to do but in the meantime we just shoved everything over to make room for the wood.

Saturday morning was crisp and cool.  When I walked outside I felt like I was camping.  The air had that tang of Northern BC mountain air and the pre-Saturday activity stillness on the street was very reminiscent of hushed mornings around a campfire sipping tea and coffee. 

Speaking of tea and coffee, rather than linger over ours, as is our usual Saturday morning tradition, we put them straight into travel mugs so we could get an early start.  Ridiculously early in my opinion.  Until Hugh told me the forecast for later in the day was snow and rain and wind and that we were working till we got done up to a certain point no matter what the weather was.  Suddenly I couldn't wait to get outside!

The building process started with digging holes for the posts.  Because of the crazy prairie wind that has tossed our trampoline around our yard like a rag doll we decided to cement our posts in.  If we're going to all this effort we don't want to have to reassemble the playhouse every time the wind kicks up.  We dug those holes deep! And by we I mean Hugh.  Someone had to take pictures and keep our travel mugs filled...

 While we were busy so were the kids.

This is just for gratuitous cuteness.  I love those freckles!

Sebastian was so much more interested in the building process than the other kids.  He watched Hugh very intently and then copied whatever he did.  It was very sweet but I had to put my foot down when I saw him making a run for the table saw.

Once we got all the posts in and level we had to cement them into the ground.  Again by we I mean Hugh.  Those bags of cement are heavy!  My contribution was to take pictures and man the garden hose, making sure the cement was the right consistency as Hugh stirred it with a shovel.

Did you know that water out of a hose tastes better than regular water?  

The weather held off for most of the day - the snow had only just begun to fall as we were cementing our last two posts. Wasn't that good timing? And this is where we finished out Day 1.

The vision is the big deck will be the house part of the playhouse.  It will big enough for a kid-sized table and chairs and big enough to have sleep-overs once they're a little older.  That's the place where I will attempt flower boxes and curtains and "housey" things like that.  The slide will come off the taller "lookout" deck and the plan is to have a suspension bridge or something connect the two play decks.  We are also going to have swings coming out the left side of the playhouse deck but they won't get done until last as we have to prep the ground still.

It was good to get all this work done and Hugh definitely couldn't have done it alone but as I stood there holding posts level I felt profoundly bored with my jobs.  Hugh was shoveling and drilling and sawing and cementing and I pretty much stood around and held things up.  At about 1:00, after I put Sebastian down for a nap, I hit a fade - partly out of boredom and partly from all the years of napping while my kids napped my body is now conditioned to shut down at 1:00.   I decided to pull a chair out of the garage so I could sit down until being called into action.  As I was sitting with my eyes closed I heard Ava say to Hugh, "Oh Dad, look! Mom's sleeping.  Oh, poor Mom, she's been awake all day!"  Hugh, who was in the middle of wiping the sweat of hard labour off his brow, started killing himself laughing while I laughed so hard I cried.

We ended the day with friends over for dinner.  The evening didn't go late and by 9:00 Hugh and I were cuddled on the couch while I fought to stay awake and watch a movie.  At 9:30 I decided to give up and just go to bed.  "After all," I told Hugh, "Being awake all day is exhausting!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching Up

Hey!  Did you miss me?  I've missed you.  What a crazy busy two weeks I've had!  I haven't been able to check in but I've thought about you a lot.  I did sit down a few times to say hello but my attention kept getting hijacked.  How are you?  What's new?

My sister, Erin took her brand new car on it's very first road trip and drove here from Vancouver to spend a week with us.  We had such a great visit.  I feel so blessed that I got to see both my sisters within a month of each other, AND I get to see them again over the May long weekend for our family camping extravaganza.  Erin jumped right into all the chaos and craziness that is our household and was a really good sport about getting up early and doing whatever was on the agenda for that day, including helping me and my team pull off the largest women's event our church has ever had - which just happened to be on the Saturday she was visiting.  You can read about our Fierce and Fabulous event here if you're interested.

Erin was so great about playing with the kids and the whole time she was here Tristan called her "Aunt Friend".  When Ava asked him why he kept calling her that he said, "Because she's my aunt and my friend."  He doesn't call me Mommy Friend!  The morning Erin drove away my kids were sobbing messes of devastation.  Only Sebastian, the littlest one, was able to pull it together to pat Ava gently on the back while, "Shh, shh, shh'ing" her.

Before Erin arrived I had read the first two books of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  I loved them! I was obsessed with them.  (Kristina, thanks for the recommend!) I needed the third book but our library had to order it from another town.  It didn't come in until the middle of the week Erin was here. I was dying to read it but if I'm really into a book I cannot function.  I can't cook, I can't clean up, I can't take care of my kids, I can't shower.  Nothing can be done until I've finished.  It's a good thing I inherited my dad's fast-reader gene.  Knowing this about myself I was waiting until after our event was done and Erin was gone to read the final book.  That day came, I was exhausted from the previous week, had been looking forward to this moment for days, had my cup of tea and my spot on the couch all ready and then I looked at my calendar...  and realized I needed to spend the day prepping for a class I was teaching the next night.  Foiled!  I did my best and got through the day but the minute Hugh walked in the door I started crying.  I had reached my limit.  My brain, my body and my spirit were all completely depleted and I just couldn't focus on my prep, couldn't think about making dinner, couldn't stop crying.  My wonderful, wonderful husband ran me a bath and told me to cocoon.  He went on to make dinner, play with the kids and put them to bed while I laid in the tub, on the couch and then in bed.  I ended up blitzing through the final book during those hours, went to bed early and woke up feeling like life was worth living again.

I had a great idea for a blog post this past Wednesday but after checking my email and catching up on a few things I put the computer away, decided not to blog or clean bathrooms or tackle my mountain of laundry and went for a long adventure walk with my kids who have only had my left-over, distracted attention for the past two weeks.  They biked and I pushed Sebastian in a stroller and the wind at our backs was so strong the kids literally didn't have to pedal to move.  Fun right?  So much fun.  So much laughing. On the way there.  And then we had to turn around and come home.  The kids literally had to grit their teeth while pedaling to get their bikes to move.  Sebastian was terrified of the wind and he kept trying to climb his way up the back of the stroller to get to me while crying and yelling, "it's going to take me away, it's going to take me away!" And I kept yelling (wind like that is loud), "ISN'T THIS AN ADVENTURE!"  It's amazing what hot chocolate and marshmallows can fix.

So here we are about to start the weekend.  YAY!  I love the weekend.  Saturdays always feel so magical to me, like anything is possible.   It's a project weekend for us.  I'm going to help Hugh build a playhouse/structure for the kids.  We talked about building a playhouse for the kids during the winter.  When we sat down a few weeks ago to finalize our plans I realized we both had very different ideas of what a playhouse is.  I was picturing doors and windows and window boxes where they could plant flowers.  Hugh was picturing the park.  We're basically going for the park idea with an expanded floor size and ceiling height.  I'm still thinking I'll be able to put curtains up somewhere and I should be able to get flower boxes that can attach to the railing and most importantly (to me) I'll still be able to paint it!

What are you doing this weekend?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sometimes "stuff" isn't just stuff.

This is my table.

This table is the first piece of furniture my husband and I bought when we got married.  Because we were moving right after the wedding we got mostly cash as gifts - which I so thankful for once we got to Fort St. John and looked into the back of the u-haul at all the heavy lifting we had to do by ourselves! The only major item we didn’t own at all - not even a reasonable facsimile - was a table. So we immediately hied ourselves down to the local United Furniture Warehouse and bought ourselves one.  I had absolutely no sense of my own personal style at that point but I grew up with a wooden farm table that still holds a magical place in my heart so my only requirements for a table (then) were solid wood and square.  Hugh wanted to get something with leaves but I didn’t want the surface of my table marred by the line breaks necessary to accommodate leaves.  We ended up with a rectangular solid oak table that came with 4 chairs and no leaves.  11 years, 3 kids and countless dinners with friends and family later, oh how I have regretted that stupid “no leaves” stipulation!


Eight short months after we unloaded our u-haul in Fort St. John we loaded our table and everything else we had accumulated over 8 months, like dishes and mugs and queen size mattresses, into another, bigger, u-haul and drove it to Vernon to begin our next adventure.  For our first anniversary my parents bought us the bench that went with our table.  Then after five years in Vernon we loaded our table and chairs and bench and all the other things we had accumulated, like a canopy bed frame, proper couch and coffee table, cribs and baby paraphernalia times two, into yet another u-haul and drove it here.  Which is a story in and of itself.  After 11 years of life with us our table has lived in 2 apartments, 1 townhouse, 1 rental house, 1 duplex and is now in our current home. 

Around that table we have played games, celebrated birthdays, milestones and anything else we could think of to celebrate.  We have made friends and created memories.  We have laughed late into the night and we have cried deep, chest-heaving, grief-filled sobs.  We have nursed three babies while trying to eat one-handed for the sake of getting to eat something hot - for once!  Those babies have grown into children who create artistic masterpieces - sometimes in permanent marker, sometimes in non-washable paint (why do they even sell non-washable paint for kids?)  These chairs have been dragged around to create the audience seats for a show, they have been stood on, knocked over and fallen off of.  There is gorilla glue holding together more than one chair back.  The varnish on the table top is worn from sun and constant scrubbing.  There is a knot in front of where Ava sits that has turned black and created an actual divot.

There’s a Johnny Cash song that I think about when I look at my table.  It’s about an old flag pole that’s leaned a little bit and a ragged old flag hanging on it.  This flag goes on quite a journey - with Washington across the Delaware, the Alamo, WW1, Korea, Vietnam, the list goes on.  It gets cut by swords and shot by muskets and cannons and is generally in pretty rough shape.  When I look at my table I think of my favourite line from that song “she’s getting threadbare and she’s wearing thin but she’s in good shape the shape she’s in.”

If I could take my design aesthetic of today back to United Furniture 11 years ago, I probably wouldn’t choose this table. It’s an orange-y oak colour for one thing which I do NOT love.  The chairs have no softness to inspire lingering (though we definitely do anyway), and it has no leaves.  Ideally I would love a table that could seat 10 or 12.  I know I could paint my table.  I could get different chairs for it.  I could scour kijiji for a fixer-upper replacement that seats more.  But you know what?  I love it the way it is.  When I look at my table I see our family history. I love the patina of worn varnish and permanent marker that has been achieved over our life together.  As is, this table really doesn’t go with my style now but it’s rubbed shoulders with us long enough that it’s no longer discordant; it works somehow.  And it wouldn’t feel like home without it.