Friday, May 31, 2013

late bloomers

This morning I asked Bug to go water the tomatoes and cucumbers, telling him he could also use the new fancy camera to take some pictures of things in bloom.  He "didn't wanna" so I asked Pook to do it, while also pointing out to Bug that the next chore coming up was laundry assistance and he wouldn't be able to take a pass on it. Suddenly he wanted to do the plants.  Oh well. Too late.

Here are some pictures of our late bloomers as taken by Pook. A few azaleas are still finishing with late blooms, and the day lilies will follow close behind the iris this year.  I seem to have not taken any pictures of the iris, which is a shame because they looked really good. Unfortunately they looked really good just as school was about to end and life was too busy for photos of flowers. I believe the same thing happened to the columbine, although it didn't give a spectacular show this year.

The roses by my front door have bloomed in time for Mother's Day for more than a decade. They're just opening, here at the end of May. There is also a baby pink which isn't quite ready for the camera.

The Knock Out roses opened on schedule and look nice. I love those back-of-store bargains! Maybe I can find a third this summer. These are enjoying a visitor, showing just at the bottom of the photo.

Spiderwort may be a thug for some, but it has barely spread here. I like its angularity against all the gentle curves in a garden. Plus, I'm a sucker for bold purples.

My daisies are amazing. I tried to establish them for several summers without success-- against my general policy of not inviting plants back if they can't care for themselves. Finally I found the right bloom and they've spread into a thicket I can only cut apart with the hatchet. I've spread them around the yard and have begun giving them away to anyone interested. They will bloom all summer without fail. I even had one blooming in December.

This last picture shows daisies in the foreground (barely) with spirea in full bloom and spiderwort showing in the back.  Pook was very proud of this shot. He experimented with the focus while helping me out and came up with variations on many of the photos.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

gonna go?

Sometimes you know you're doing too well to be really doing well. I've been juggling so many things and been pretty impressed with my ability to keep everything straight and deal with everything as it has come. I took a great big breath when school finished last Thursday because that was the end of much of my to-do list. Baseball is done, school is done. The kitchen is not done. The church playground is not done. The swim team executive board is easing up but ongoing, the vacation to Washington DC is.... oh crap.

I woke up this morning knowing that something was wrong. The best I could do right away was write "check on vrbo" on my long to-do list.  Sometime between "The workmen are running late" and "I'm bored" and "He did it" and "I'm hungry" and "The check engine light is on" I finally got to the computer to see why I had this uncomfortable feeling about our trip.  

I can't find any information anywhere that I've sent a deposit to anyone. The best I can find is a confirmation from six weeks ago that the rental property was available for the requested dates. I took a deep breath and emailed the owner. She was incredibly prompt, but didn't give the answer I wanted. No, I had never actually reserved the property. No, it was no longer available.

I panicked for a few minutes, then I sent the kids out of the room. I took a few deep breaths. I got chocolate. I took a few more deep breaths.  Then I got back on the vrbo website and started hunting. Right now I've got two available places, both more expensive than the first, but acceptable. I've sent requests for availability and price to five others. We will have a summer vacation. It will happen. I will even have a chance to relax. Right?

Pook just asked me if I'd ever wondered if maybe I volunteered for too many things. Perceptive kid.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Bug came home on May 1 with a calendar of end-of-year activities. I immediately saw an error where they'd put the last day of school on May 23 instead of May 29. Bug insisted it was right and somewhere in me there was a ningling feeling that I'd been hearing "three more weeks" not "one more month" as my calendar indicated.  I did some investigation and sure enough, the county CHANGED the last day of school at some point this year. How dare they!?  I lost a week!

Now, two more days of school. For Pook, this means two days of exams. For Bug this means Field Day, cleaning out his desk and playing outdoors a lot (movies in the classroom if it rains). For me, it means cramming in some last To Do's.  For both Bug and myself it means saying Goodbye to his school.

Bug won the lottery (literally) for a placement in our county's Magnet School for High Achievers. Six kids from our school got in this year, which may be a record number.  Once you're in this program, you're in it until you graduate. They house it in a different elementary building for grades 4-6, but the older kids are conveniently housed in the same schools the boys would attend anyway.

I apply each year for Pook to get in, and I will continue to do so until it no longer matters. But I think it matters more for Bug. I've always told people that Pook could learn even if he was under a rock. Sure, teachers are nice to have, but he'd learn anyway.  For Bug, I think we need teachers, and I think we need good teachers. I think he just needs the relationship between himself and an adult to inspire him. With a few exceptions, this has not been a year of inspiration for him.

I was so excited that his name had been drawn that I focused on him and how he'd feel about it. He was initially concerned, but the idea has grown on him. What I didn't think about immediately was that I too would be leaving the school. And I've been there more years than he!

For seven years I've been in that building weekly, helping and visiting and getting to know everyone in every corner. I've participated in lots of projects and done my part for the PTA as one of those stay-at-home-moms who can. Most of my time was spent in the library, where I mindlessly shelved books, stuck tags on book spines, helped add and delete books, rounded up overdues and organized the shelves. It was a relaxing place and I was always needed. There's something meditative about alphabetizing books that rested my brain.

I went up to the school today with gifts for a few teachers. I'd told the media specialist that I'd come in one more time to help her.  She's retiring this year, but trying to get the place in perfect order for her replacement.  She's been special to Bug for the past few years too, so I wanted to be sure I got in a nice Goodbye. He's having an easier time leaving, knowing that she's leaving too. I think she feels the same way about him.  There weren't tears, but it was sad saying goodbye to so many wonderful people. We'll miss it there.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the walls came tumbling down

This is the Kitchen Before, looking at the cooking area from the eating area. The open door you can see is to the dining room, and just before it is a right turn to a hallway. (You can slightly see a closet door in there).  Next to the fridge is the microwave, then a pantry before that hallway.

And this is after the first day of construction (demolition), taken from further back, so the still-existing eating area shows as well. As you can tell, the table became our sole food prep surface. Soon the 2x4's separating the kitchen from the dining room came out. The wall creating a hallway between our stairwell and living room disappeared. (The one that contained the kitchen closet seen in the first picture.) A big-ole-beam went up into the ceiling.  The cabinets and appliances were all delivered the same day, so our cars are going to get used to living outside.

As Bug slipped himself between 2x4's one morning to enter the kitchen, I told him that we should get used to the new walls and walk around them to enter the kitchen. He came back with, "I can walk through walls!  Why shouldn't I?!"  And, to that, I had no answer.

The space began to solidify for us as we gained framing, and didn't change significantly more although the electricians busted holes everywhere they looked. The drywall made the biggest difference in our ability to see what we were getting. Here is the same view of the kitchen, looking into the dining room.

I wish I'd taken "before" pictures of the dining and living rooms. I knew we were enlarging the doors to them and between them, but the change is huge. The hallway is gone, giving the living room six more feet, toward the stairs.  It looks and feels much different.

Here is the view from dining to living room, before:

And now I can't get far enough away to photograph it. Suffice it to say, there is only a slight demarcation of wall and header between the rooms.

After the initial demolition, I thought we were basically through the dust stage, but I was corrected. Not only do I need to live through drywall, but the hardwoods will be sanded at some point too.  I bought more wine and chocolate.

They will patch the hardwoods where walls used to be, "feathering in" boards from areas they'll no longer be needed, such as under the cabinets. The floor guy (there's a new guy for everything) expressed concern that he wasn't going to have enough salvaged wood and that new boards can't ever match perfectly. I offered him the upstairs landing, done with the same wood.  So now our upstairs can be ripped up and dusty too! (ok, dustier.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

the cupboards were bare

Poor Old Mother Hubbard!  To live like this regularly would be the end of me.  I didn't expect the prep for the kitchen demolition to be so hard. I'd packed so much up ahead of time.  I thought that "all" that was left was the kitchen cupboards.  Ha!  I cannot possibly have had all THAT in my kitchen cupboards!

The only difference between what we did for the demo and what one does to move is that we didn't have to pack as carefully.  Once glassware got upstairs to the office it's safe; it isn't going to get rattled around in a truck. In fact when we ran out of boxes we just piled up dishes on the floor.

I did a lot of the "I'll clean that when I unpack it" and "I'll throw some of this away when I unpack" that I know is bad. But I was getting so tired at that point I didn't much care.  Ideally I'll be able to take my time unpacking and can wash things and find a new home for everything worth keeping.

The dumpster arrived too- a huge behemoth of a thing. I had to film the depositing of it in the driveway for two young boys who had to go to school, and missed it.