Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 13, 2015

After years of waffling, we have drip irrigation!!  Woohoo!!  Coolest thing ever. Now that it's in, it is easy to modify.  I can run emitter tubing from the main line, I can add more tubing in the beds.  It was a bigger project, and an easier project, than we guessed.  Designing it and planning and gathering the pieces was definitely the most brainy part.  It took about 3 1/2 hours to install, and didn't have any hiccups.  We are still tweaking how often it will run and for how long, and there is a dripping leak at the spigot so we are turning it on and off manually instead of using the timer until we get that fixed.

Cocoa came out with this dress up box gem.  He looks like the scariest kind of mob boss: the one who doesn't care what you think.

We ordered about 30 pounds of cherries from a farmer in Eastern Washington through a group buy- I was up till nearly midnight pitting them, and cleaning the kitchen, tucking Mimi in, and helping Ernie clean and vacuum her room.  It was BAD.  I got through about 12 pounds in an hour, which filled three gallon-sized bags for the freezer.

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12, 2015

I sent this to my sister today.  My hair is increasing in sheer volume.  It would not even cooperate for a bun.  Yikes.  What hath this bleach wrought?  I am fairly certain I am never going to bleach my hair again, so I am having fun while my ends are accepting color.  It will grow out, get trimmed off, and fade soon enough.  Sure fun though :)  Crazy to take care of, especially since I barely even brush my hair normally.  Now, I only have to wash it once a week, but if I get it wet I have to slather conditioner in or it will be a snarled mess.  So....I use shampoo once a week, I use conditioner every 2 or 3 days.  I wash it in cold water, too.

A friend came over to drop off everything my kids left at her house, and she and her kids stayed for a few hours.  The oldest girl, N, is a Brain.  She's five, and she and Ernie get along famously.  They just "get" each other.  Super fun.  

My sister grabbed the kids this afternoon since she was driving by, and I had the house to myself for a few hours.  I probably should have cleaned, but I am still deep into organizing my studio stuff and wanted to dig out of that.  I've been typing up checklists for a master binder to track things like scales, payments, songs passed off, etc.  I know.  Spreadsheets rule my life.  When I feel off kilter I make a list and a spreadsheet.  I still feel off kilter, but at least I can point to a piece of paper and pretend I am in control and everything will go smoothly.  I can pretend.

Oh.  Speaking of planning things, I have been looking at getting drip irrigation for YEARS.  But, it was complicated and expensive.  We are finally at a point that $200 isn't going to break the bank.  I spent hours reading guides, and we bit the bullet.  For our date night tonight we spent an hour in the irrigation aisle of Home Depot getting tubing, hose, timer, fittings, couplers, et cetera et cetera.  I sure hope we have all the bits and bobs we need!!  Tomorrow is the day :)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015

I slept!  Why does every entry start with my sleeping habits?  Sleeping is most important I guess.  The kids actually woke me up at 9:15 and I was kind of grumpy about it too.  I have seen 2 a.m. more often than not this week!

Mimi informed me that the book I gave her to check out last night (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) was boring and she needed to go back to the library.  Right now would be great.  I reminded her that nothing was going to happen until I finished my breakfast, but she was welcome to go get ready.  

I looked fabulous, so she had to take my picture before we left.  (This is the result of finally taking out the Mrs. Claus braids I put in two days ago.  Mermaid hair!!)

Cocoa needed his picture taken too.  Does this shot make my eyes look big?

We hit the library, the music store, and the grocery store.  Cocoa was SO SQUIRRELY by the end.  Yikes.  But everyone got books to read, I replenished my studio shelves, and we have a fresh supply of milk, almond milk, gold fish crackers, and antidepressants.  

I told the kids that if they would attack the laundry pile with gusto, I would make them their favorite little rice balls (onigiri.). They did a great job and I filled the balls with beef stir fry from last night, minced.  

I worked on organizing my music shelves this afternoon, and my first student was a little shocked to find me on the floor surrounded by piles of music, with every table, couch, chair, and piano bench covered in more stacks of music.  She'd never seen so much music in one place!  Makes me a little sad- I would love every piano student to have stacks and stacks of music to play, just like kids have stacks and stacks of books to read when they are learning to read.  

We had a good dinner tonight- Spiralizer zucchini with pesto (from two summers ago) and sun dried tomatoes and meatballs, melon, and artisan garlic bread from Costco.  

We scarfed our meal and rushed out the door for my little sister's last concert at her college.  It was a great show- they used the Wizard of Oz as a narrator and wove a storyline together from Wicked, Wizard of Oz, and The Wiz.  All the soloists were in full costume.  Cocoa chose seats right behind the band (piano, synth, drums, stand up bass, and a horn section) so he could watch them.  He gave the drummer (a huge dude with a tiny kit) a high five after the show: first time he'd ever gotten a high five after a show :)  E could not sit still during the songs from The Wiz. Her feet were dancing, her body was swaying, her head and arms were bopping.  I literally mean she could not sit still, it was awesome.

(We met Bert's friend, K, after the show and I pulled her into the group shot!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June 10, 2015

Wednesdays.  They are the only day of the week I have to wake up early, and so, obviously, are the only days the kids EVER sleep in and are normally preceded by a largely sleepless night.

So, of course, I was up at 2:00 in the morning sitting on my deck in a bathrobe trying to get my restless limbs to settle down.  I think I screwed up my medication- I forgot to take it Sunday and Monday, so I took one Tuesday morning and another Tuesday night.  By everything I was advised, it should have been fine and wouldn't even affect me for a couple more days.... but I popped awake with the sun at 6:30.  Yawn yawn.  At least I'm happy, right?

I taught one great lesson this morning, and we had a calm day.  The house is in good shape, I worked on organizing piano studio supplies and making lists of what I'm missing.  

I invited the kids to do a project with me after they finished their chores: Gak!  Equal parts white glue and water, and then drizzle in a mixture of 1 tsp borax in 1 cup warm water until you have the consistency you want.  Stir and knead!  SUPER fun, Cocoa thought it was amazing.  Mimi left almost immediately to go read, but princess sparkle pants is hard to impress and doesn't really care who knows it.  We are working on her social skills.

At 2:30 I realized that we had to LEAVE for dance class in about ten minutes- Cocoa and I dropped the girls off and came back to adventure a little bit.  We walked to the mail box, then walked to the creek.  I tried to get him to eat flowers with me from the garden when we got back, but he wasn't buying it.  I heartily enjoyed a snack of nasturtiums and borage.  

After we picked up the girls from dance I made a beef stir fry from a cookbook Aunt LoLo gave me (she had an extra copy.)  It's the real deal, guys.  Her mother-in-law uses it- I can't imagine a higher endorsement than that.  MaMa is a fabulous cook and lived in China until she was an adult and moved to the States.  I loved the stir fry, J said thank you, Ernie RAVED about the meat (she is all about meat), Cocoa ate the rice out of his bowl and snuck away when no one was looking, and Mimi acted like I was trying to poison her.  Cads!  I thoroughly enjoyed our beef stir fry, with sirloin, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, and shallots.

J and Cocoa packed up for a night at the beach with the scouts, and the girls and I left for town.  I swapped with a child who had a conflict tonight, so the girls read in the foyer while I had my lesson.  My teacher....I swear, she could spend a month on three measures, and a year on a page.  It's exactly the nit picky heckling I need, but it's really pretty funny.  Can I please give more oomph on those notes, and lift my hands gently but please don't really left- see?  Don't leave the keyboard.  Nice wrist rotation, but not too much.  Dynamics please, but block them.  That's all just one measure.  After two years with her, I think...I am starting to be a pianist.  And I think I have left accompanying behind me for a long while.  I started lessons because I was injured, and I have spent two years learning to play without injuring myself, and I have learned it is a long and deliberate process.  As soon as I go back to sight reading at breakneck speeds for hours at a time, I get injured again.  Sad, because I really love collaborating...but then again, I have been rather "used" for about 20 years.  Maybe it's time for me to stop stepping in to fix everyone's problems, eh?  But...I learned a lot with the trial by fire I've been through as accompanist for everyone and anyone, at with hardly any notice most of the time.  I'm the back up, I don't get advance warning: I get a binder two days before the show.  HA!  (Can't say I don't really, really enjoy the adrenaline though.  I do like that bite of challenge.)

We stopped at the library after my lesson, and then Target for some supplies.  All the kids were in bed by 10, and the sun has barely set.  We are almost to the longest day of the year!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 9, 2015

I think kids are tired today.  I think I'm tired today.  I think I forgot to take my medication since last Saturday.  Wheeee.....

We have had a breakthrough in cleaning up here- a friend/student of mine/mom/former teacher/I used to teach her kids piano heard we were having trouble and dropped off a cool digital timer a little bit ago, just for the big girl to use.  We were super grateful, and E loved pushing the buttons...but it didn't really accomplish what we hoped it would.  Because...we wanted stuff to get clean.  And it still wasn't getting clean.

Last week a friend shared that she was teaching her crew (three kids 5 and under.  YASSSS.) to do 10 minute clean ups.  The kicker was...they worked hard for 10 minutes, and accomplished whatever they could.  See?  10 minutes is way less scary than "clean it ALL" or "You have 10 minutes and I throw away the rest."  (That last example is me.  It's all me.)  

This morning, in 10 minutes, we unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, tidied the music and living room, cleared and wiped the table and counters, and put away all the dried hand dishes.  NOT BAD.  We took another 10 minutes this afternoon and got the playroom clean enough that I could vacuum most of it.  Again, NOT BAD.  This is actually huge monumental progress, especially for E.

I tried it on myself- I gave myself 10 minutes to clean my room.  It becomes the landing place for papers, laundry, grocery receipts, kids art work, books, random toys Cocoa abandoned, and mis-matched socks.  I got it tidied up and vacuumed- sweet!  Of course, there is a huge pile of laundry that moved from the floor to the bed (which I am NOT GOING TO FOLD.  NO WAY.)  

This?  This is a picture of my lunch.  I actually sat down and ate lunch.  This doesn't happen during the school year, mostly because I am so DONE with children that as soon as the books close I go in my room and shut the door, then grab a granola bar in the afternoon when no one is looking.  Now, I eat lunch when I get hungry because the kids aren't there to see me, they're off playing littlest pet shop pirate princesses go to Hogwarts (and play chinese checkers).  They come up when they're hungry and make sandwiches.  

Isn't it pretty?  It's pretty.

I asked the kids to take a few minutes and clean the entry way.  I assumed they would put away the shoes and grocery sacks blocking the stairs, and maybe sweep.  Instead they trooped outside and raided the garden to create a fairy garden scene for visitors to enjoy.  (Notice the cracked bird has a feathered headdress thing going on. kind of ironic.)  

My sister dropped her kids off this afternoon so she could grocery shop in peace.  This is a very valid concern!!  My niece, BuBu, was dropped off sound asleep.  I know she doesn't sleep at night if she naps, so after a while I tried to gently wake her up.  I spoke to her...tickled her feet....kissed her cheeks....propped her eyelids open...girlfriend was not going to wake up, and now she was asleep with her EYES OPEN AND TRACKING ME.  OK, that's creepy.  I knew she was awake when she smacked me across the face and burrowed in the couch.  She finally woke up enough to launch herself, wailing, into her big brother's lap.  The kids called him to play, and he smugly said "No, I can't: BuBu needs me!"  Awwww!  She took him by the hand upstairs and she found the guinea pig.  I gave them a big bowl of salad to feed her.

I taught a piano lesson this afternoon (the child didn't realize they had a lesson before a long summer break, so we worked on her song a bit and then I set her loose trying to write lyrics for the thing.  Hopefully it will help her get the tricky rhythms into her head!)  

We all changed into swimsuits and packed a picnic dinner, and met the dads at the beach for the evening.  The water felt FANTASTIC, it was another hot day.  85 is hot here (really hot.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015

We did it: A perfect summer day.  WE DID IT!

1)  I was awake from 3-5 with the most amazing head ache.  It was like there were little pebbles on my bones around my eyes.  I tried everything I could think of- I was stretching, rubbing, and pouting.  None of those things really worked- pity.  I worked so hard at them.  J texted me this afternoon to ask if I, at one point, had my bottom where my head should be and my feet up on the wall.  

"Of course."

Ahem.  I DID manage to sleep a few more hours, until about 8:30, to add to my few hours I got before 3.  Not a bad night!  The kids are so self sufficient in the mornings, it's awesome.  I think that's part of why summer has really thrown me for a loop so far: No one needs me.  I am so used to be needed all the time, it's kind of a hard shift to just accept that I get to take a break.  

2)  A friend came by to pick up the last of my wrinkly autumn apples (again, that dang wrist.  How can I peel 50 pounds of apples and stir and do all those things?  I can't.  Less work for me!)  She made up batches of apple sauce this afternoon- she's such a go-getter.  (Of course, she is retired and has the energy of a chipmunk.)  

3)  Around 10:30 I told the girls they could bike to the park.  Cocoa really wanted to go, so (get this) I drove him down.  We stayed until he got tired.  I drove him back.  GENIUS AT WORK!  The girls didn't have to leave before they were ready, I didn't have to try and make him walk a half mile in 82 degree weather, and no one got upset.  Not even me (which is huge: I really, really don't like taking kids to parks.)  This is awesome.  This has possibilities.  Oh the joys my kids are going to have as they get old enough to have the things they want instead of waiting for someone to give them to them!

I drove C home when he got too hot.  When the girls got home we all had lunch.  

4)  By this time, it was 85 degrees outside and starting to heat up upstairs.  I told the girls that if they finished their chores, everyone could watch a movie downstairs.  They chose a Tinkerbell movie.  Do you know how great the Tinkerbell movies are?  I'm not even joking.  The characters have personalities, disagreements, strengths, weaknesses, and real friendship.  Also, real lessons (even hard lessons.)  Tinkerbell and My Little Pony are both pretty great in this house.

5)  After the movie, I pulled out a history story book I'd unearthed while I was organizing our cupboards.  I picked it up at a curriculum 2nd hand shop a few years back, for no reason except everyone else liked it.  We have LOTS to cover during the school year, but just because it's summer doesn't mean the kids aren't still anxious to learn and do guided activities.  Today we learned about nomads and the dawn of civilization in the fertile crescent.  We made cave paintings afterwards, and I challenged the girls to make a shelter out of "found" items in the backyard.  Since they had just watched Tinkerbell put gobs of cool machines together, they were all over it.  

The paint quickly became a moot point as Ernie and Cocoa started smashing raspberries in old garden pots, adding water, and painting rocks.  Cocoa stripped down to his skivvies.  How quickly civilization slips away- can anyone just picture my kids literally going "Lord of the Flies" if I was gone for a solid 48 hours?  That's all it would take, I'm sure of it.  

(Mom's legs are longest- I attack with wet toes with no regrets.)

6)  Ernie convinced everyone to get their swim suits on, and she turned the sprinkler on in the backyard.

7)  I called everyone inside around 5:30 to get dressed.  We went to Costco with the intent of shopping in the air conditioned store and then coming home to eat after the evening had cooled off a little.  It didn't cool off much by the time we were eating at 7:00 (and a few children barely made it through Costco) but I stocked up on no-cook things for meals this week.  We had croissant sandwhiches tonight with grape tomatoes and actual grapes, with frozen blueberries and whipped cream for dessert.  (Third time we've had fruit and cream in a week's time.  I'm hooked.)  I bought shredded rotisserie chicken to mix with an asian slaw for another meal, and I will make the rest of the chicken into a chicken salad with tomatoes and serve it with the rest of the croissants.  I bought zucchini to spiralize and mix with a quick sauce, and garlic bread and frozen meatballs (I can just microwave those.)  That's four meals, not bad!  That will get us through the week- tomorrow night we are having a picnic at the beach.

8)  We finished off our family night by introducing the kids to American Ninja Warrior.  They were entranced.  Am I in trouble??

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 7, 2015

No pictures today!  Is a blog a blog without pictures?  Let's find out.

1)  HOT today.  Going to be a whole week of hot, I see a lot of beach nights in our future!  Our back patio is a close second in terms of wonderfulness though.  I continue my decorating trend of designing our lives and home and yard around the perfect place to put a chair.  There is not a pretty spot or a nice window that does not have a comfy chair next to it.  I like to sit a lot, OK?  I really like to sit....and look at pretty things.  My favorite spots right now are the chair in the front room, the front patio, the back deck, the deck off the master, the grandma chair in the dining room, my bed by the window, and the back patio.  Pretty much wherever I go, besides the kids rooms and the playroom, I have a perfect spot to sit.  Beautiful.

2)  Church was wonderful.  It's normally wonderful these days.  J was released as a family history specialist and called as the 1st counselor in the young men's group.  It will be an adventure!  He's taught this age twice before as a Sunday School teacher.  Guess it's just the age the Lord wants him to be with.  His wood working skills, guitar playing skills, and TRUCK are going to come in very handy I think.  His recent physical therapy to work on his knee, which has been bothering him off and on for years, will also come in handy.  Our relief society lesson was on being courageous- sometimes it's having courage in the moment, sometimes its having courage in the long run, and sometimes it's just trying again the next day.

3)  My wrist is a bit better today.  Am I going to have to pamper this stinking thing for the rest of my life?  Baby.  I am hoping my mid-week I will have finished repenting of my hubris to think I could fold six loads of laundry at once, or thumb type for half an hour, or play piano with bad technique.

4)  We invited my sister's family for dinner tonight- bring a side dish to share and meat for your family.  We had the grill up and running.  J grilled flank steak, I steamed carrots, she grilled chicken and brought a salad.  I served quite possibly the best summer dessert: frozen blue berries topped with a thick cloud of whipped cream.  Superb.  Did I mention it was HOT today?  The six kids ran all over the yard, the adults served and cleared and chatted.  Beautiful evening!