Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday with a Capital "M"

Today was one of those Army-style days. We accomplished more before lunch than we usually get done in a week.

Item 1: One adult and four children arrived at an 8:10 a.m. orthodontist appointment ten -- count them TEN-- minutes early. Under any circumstances, I would consider this an outstanding accomplishment, particularly when the appointment is a 20 minute drive away and the kids don't get up until 7:15. However, I am one of those people who believes, in direct contradiction of all the evidence I have ever seen in my life, that time can be compressed to suit my schedule. I also believe that I always have time to do "just one more thing" before I have to go. In short, I am always late. Compounding this problem is the fact that 3/4 of my children are cut from the same cloth and one is a toddler to boot (the Other One is chronically and painfully punctual and has found a way to make this otherwise fine characteristic a thorn in my side, but I won't go into this right now). So the fact that we were not only on time but early and for an early appointment, on a Monday, is nothing less than stellar. Yay me.

Item 2: One adult and four children, some of whom were slightly dazed by the exact monetary figures being proposed by said orthodontist (curse him and all his heirs and assigns), then went to a cozy coffee shop for breakfast. The total cost for feeding five people bagels, coffee, juice, a muffin and some crumb cake was a mere $13 and change. And we didn't spill any food and no one had to leave with their hands over their ears because we were so loud, because we weren't. Well, except maybe for one slightly sour looking gentleman, but I think he was going anyway.

Item 3: We went school shopping. In the space of one hour and 15 minutes, we fully equipped three students for the start of school. Nothing in the store was broken and no one had to sit in time out, although there was an unfortunate incident with a young man in the process of potty training. The people at the store were fairly good humored about it and we did have an emergency pullup in the van so no one had to go naked. All children immediately rose to the occasion by fetching items from the van, alerting the store personnel, and removing their sopping wet shoes. I didn't think to get a picture of Mr. Potty in his post-incident outfit (shirt, pullup and nothing else). Financially, however, the school shopping experience was only slightly less shocking than the orthodontist visit. First grade: $27. Fine, I'm good with that. Fourth grade: $47. Not as good, but still about $10 less than the cost of the "convenient" supply package the PTA was offering. Sixth grade: $100. WTF!?!?!? $100? What is going on here? And we're not done because the school "strongly recommends" an item called the locker ladder, which supposedly will set me back another $20 or so. Yikes! Still, I want my sixth grader to feel good about the start of her middle school career, so I will try to focus on the amazing fact that we managed to mostly complete school shopping before 10:45 on a Monday morning. And I will not buy her so much as another pen until she goes to college.

Item 4: A fourth grader was deposited at band camp within 4 minutes of the stated start time. I consider this a miracle in light of the preceding three events. And she had fun there and came out with a spiffy clarinet--courtesy of the school--and a big smile.

Item 5: During band camp, my very favorite first grader learned to ride his bike. Yes. Really. This is huge. HUUUUUUUUUUGGGE. The kids is 6 years and 9 months old and until this very day has had absolutely no success at bike riding. This is a tremendous shame because we have some fabulous places to ride and -- before now -- we could go only if Good Old Dad was available to tow Nate on the tag along. But no more! To be sure, there is some refinement needed. But the kid actually rode a bike and I am thrilled. Here is the man in action:

As if all of this were not enough, I took my kids to the playground. Admittedly, this was to kill time during band camp, but I still think it counts. By 1:00 we were home, having accomplished all this. The afternoon was a little quiet, but we topped off the day by building a compost bin so that I can finally clean out the garage. Sounds like a non-sequitur, but it is absolutely true and it makes perfect sense when you remember that the chickens lived in the garage up until last week. Unfortunately, it is now 8:15 and I've been ignoring the dinner timer for a few minutes. Time to go rescue the ravioli and feed the troops so they can be ready for another day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Still here

Wow. I have been the anti-blog this month. And with good reason. It has been dizzyingly busy here. Work, chicken coops, work, chicken runs, work, and a big ole round of speed-camping-prep.

The chicken coop now looks like this:

It was finished at 8pm on the night before we were supposed to leave for camping. This was not really a big deal, because who doesn't want to stay up until the wee hours packing and pre-cooking and organizing for a trip on which you will not sleep well for three nights straight. Maybe next time I will plan a little farther ahead. That shouldn't be too hard, because two days before we were supposed to leave, we were still trying to track down (and purchase, at prices not at all consistent with the whole "cheap vacation" scenario that camping used to represent to us) all the necessary supplies. Like a tent. And bug spray. And maybe some food.

I am beyond pleased with the coop, though, as are the biddies. They still have no names, but they come zipping out the chicken door every morning like their tiny yard is the best playground EVER. Then, they suddenly scurry back inside because some blade of grass waved the wrong way and freaked them out. Loud noises set them off too, but they now know that I often bring goodies and they scoot right over to see me when I come visit. At night, they all crowd onto the same corner of their roost. Sillies.

We almost had an unplanned addition to the fence. Here is El Husbando engaging in more underpaid manual labor:

He slaved in all weather conditions to dig the holes for the fence posts. The boss from &^$$ insisted that the posts needed to be buried 2 feet deep. Our soil is nothing but rocks and the poor man was armed with nothing but a manual post hole auger and a giant pry bar. Plus, he was given a tight schedule for digging because the boss insisted that the coop had to be fully functional before we left for camping.

Once the posts were in, it was time for some big heavy pressure treated 2x4s. The strong man was engaged in other necessary work at this stage, and it was necessary for me to be marvelously creative in order to keep the boards in place while I was nailing them in. Enter The Ladder. It made a great set of extra hands and you can see how nicely it holds the board for me.

A little too nicely, in fact. Here is the moment where I was punished by the fates for excessive pride:

Can you see it clearly enough? I nailed both ends of the board without removing the ladder and thereby earned myself a tremendous amount of abuse from the parts of the family who were not busy being boneheads. The picture is nice and big to represent the extent of my humiliation.

Next time I build a chicken coop, I'll know better.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Diplomatic relations

Here is the view from the back yard yesterday. The cats look like they are watching the most amazing TV show EVER. Pure Kitty Fun. What could possibly be this interesting?

It appears we have some foreigners visiting. They require careful observation.

Relations between the nations are marked by quiet suspicion on one side and sheer obliviousness on the other.

The humans and the chickens thoroughly enjoyed the back yard outing. There were liberal amounts of grass eating, bug eating, pooping, and giggling. I will not insult you by specifying which species took part in which games.

Unfortunately some unnamed parties (coughthedogcough) could not be trusted not to eat the visitors and were placed under house arrest. The same unnamed party (cough%$@#@dogcough) was later jailed and given a stern talking to when it was discovered that he had expressed his feelings through acts of terrorism directed at some innocent curtains.

p.s. Regarding the staggering number of un-done to-do-list items: Garden: done (four weeks of weeds obliterated in one afternoon; there was even dirt in my scalp when I was done); Sweet little baby sweater: done (despite continuing absence of instructions; still has not been mailed, though); Shed amenities: done (roost [removable for cleaning and wonderfully simple in its construction], clever chicken door, and nesting boxes [except for their lids]); Shed painting: started (primer is done and main color should be done tomorrow, assuming work gets done); Dishes: mostly done; Grocery shopping: done; Whining: done!