Category Archives: outdoors

Railroad ties. Add sand, kids will come!

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Apparently, we now live in a beach house.  Not really, but apparently sand boxes can create a very realistic simulation.

(Apparently, my kids have been using that word too much.  Mom’s started copying.)

I’ve always wanted a sand box for the kids.  Whenever we visit somebody that has a sandbox, Megan especially will sit for hours and just dig in the sand.

Derek finally agreed to build one!  And when he builds something, he BUILDS something.  If you get my drift.  But here — pictures are worth a thousand words:

First, he made a box from a bundle of railroad ties.

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Next he added 4 tons of sands:

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He finished it by tractor light, and Mercy was the first child to set foot in the sand.  She promptly scooped up and ate fistfuls of sand.  I’m not exactly sure what deficiency that suggests.

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(Yes, I realize there is a tree buried in sand in this picture.  My husband boxed it in, after his mom told him it wouldn’t hurt the tree.  Somebody else told us that the tree would die because the roots couldn’t get oxygen.  An actual tree expert told us that the problem would be rot around the trunk that the sand would create.  Rot would bring bugs, and bugs would kill the tree.

So.  Derek cut out the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and put it around the tree.  Sand not-so-mysteriously keeps finding its way to the bottom of the bucket, so we’ll have to keep scooping it out, but maybe the tree will survive.  If not, it was a filler tree anyway!  I have a Sugar Maple growing 5 feet away from it, and the Redbud is getting very close to interference.)

The kids LOVE the sandbox!  The morning after it was finished, Cameron was up and outside before I was even awake, and had dug all the way to the bottom of the sandbox.  I love that all 6 of my kids can sit and play together!  We’ve even had cousins in there too.  The kids have played in the sandbox every day since Daddy built it.  Tons of fun.  Quite literally. =)

Yes, I do have the kids rinse off and brush down before they come inside my house, but you’ve been to the beach, right?  Sand wins.  Every time.

So I’ll just keep sweeping sand into piles and wishing I had some saltwater and dolphins to go with it!

Katniss and Cameron, up in a tree… the rest of us wouldn’t stand a chance!

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I’m a “Hunger Games” fan.  I devoured all three books, and ran to the theatre with the mobs to see Katniss on screen.  (Don’t approve?  That’s fine, just don’t try the, “But it’s about kids killing kids!”  That line makes me mad.)  My kids might be picking up on my obsession, because one kid in particular seems to be trying to impress me with his own survival skills.

It’s Cameron.

Today at the park, he practiced camouflage art.  Dirt smeared all over his face, and dirt rubbed in his hair… I would totally mistake him for a tree branch, if he was sleeping in a tree!

He took his shoes off and wandered the park barefoot.  Better for gripping and running, I have to admit!  Actually, all of my kids were barefoot, and their Daddy sat them on the stone wall and let them dangle their feet in the pond!  They were so cute, all lined up and splashing, and I couldn’t help thinking, “I bet the other moms don’t allow this.”  (Pride or guilt?  Uhh… Maybe both.)

Cameron’s been honing his spray painting skills, on cabinets and the wood furnace, with Daddy’s black spray paint.  (I have no idea how spray paint could be used to survive, but Cameron will figure out a way!)

He’s been practicing his spearing.  With a tiki torch.  Aimed at his siblings on the swings.

He can grab chickens out of locked pens.

But if the average diet disappears? He’ll be fine.  He’ll just eat boogers off of tissues (his) and drink Capri Suns (not his) he pulls out of trash cans.  (Trash cans at the park, where he also loves to find half-empty Taco Bell cups and stray candy.)

He’s very good at making do with raw eggs.

And toileting just about anywhere.

He loves to make secret fires, and he’s handy with a knife.

He can always find water!  He even knows how to drink the liquid from elephant poop, so no worries about dehydration.

So really, if you ever feel desperate in today’s economy, or you’re hiding from a bunch of kids that yeah, are trying to kill you, then look up my son. He’d make a great ally!

March red necks

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It’s 85 degrees!  My thermometer is sitting in the sun, so it might be a tad off, but still.  It’s a scorcher!

It’s also March 14th.

I’m making iced coffee before the Shamrock Shakes are done at McDonald’s!  What IS this warm winter sunshine?  I remember bundling up in heavy coats to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade when I was little.  This year we’ll sitting in our back yard on St. Paddy’s Day, sipping green smoothies while we soak up the sun on our bare arms.

We didn’t drink enough hot chocolate yet!  Maybe iced would be yummy?  Can you ice a HOT chocolate?

The cherry trees downtown are bloomed.  The robins have been hopping around for weeks now, and the daffodils are on the way out!  Cameron found me a dandelion already.  We’re wearing flip-flops to church and going barefoot at home.  Bare feet are encouraged at school too, which is outside on my newly refurbished swing.  (Thanks, Grammy!)

Am I complaining about this early warm weather?   Um, NO!

Yesterday we did all things summer.  We played in water.  (I vote for pools to open before Memorial Day this year!)  We got ice cream at McDonald’s and ate it at the park.  I pushed the kids on the swings, and let the boys push me high too.  I rocked on one of those bouncy animals.  (We all had one to ride… it was very Mary Poppinish…)  We bought hot dogs and grilled them over an outdoor fire at home, and I even ate one!  It was SO yummy, dripping with mustard.

I took the Christmas lights off of my outside bushes, since it felt like July was wrapping up!

Cameron’s neck is already red. ( Note to self: put sunscreen on my redneck kids.)

My man is already working on his red neck, and showing off his big strong muscles in cut-off T-shirts.

I do need to keep reminding Cameron that the toilet outside is NOT the outhouse!  (It’s waiting for me to decide whether or not to use it as a planter…)  Even warm weather is not an excuse to take care of business outside.  At least pick a tree, kid, so we don’t have to dump the toilet upside down to shake out all the pee.

What to do when the power goes out… (and you *already* have 5 kids)

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February 22nd, 2012 

Our power shut down at 5:00am this morning.  I was snapping the third and last snap on Zach’s onesie, after an early morning nursing/diaper change.  I put Zach back to bed in a now eerily quiet room, and snuck back under the covers.  I’m thinking, “Wait for it… wait for it… AND there it is.”

Screams of terror from the upstairs bedrooms.  All four kids are shrieking about no night-lights or fans.  Cameron was the most dramatic!  He must have run out to the hall to flip the lights on, because I could hear his panicked sobs of, “It’s the hall lights too!  It’s so dark!”

Dee and I lit candles and handed out flashlights, and the tears subsided a bit.  Megan hates any kind of shadow, so the flickering candlelight was freaking her out!  She kept pointing at the ceiling fan shadows right above her head, saying, “Look at all those bad guys!”  I told her she could keep her flashlight on, but she HAD to go back to sleep.  I opened the window blinds and said, “Look, the sky is already getting pink.  The sun will be up soon and then you can see.”

(Too soon, that sunrise…)

Dee went to work, and I crept back to bed.  Didn’t sleep, really, worrying about the candles in the kids’ rooms.  “If a fire starts, will the smoke detectors go off soon enough?  Which child would I grab first?  Would I throw on a robe before going outside?  Maybe I should just get dressed now…”

The boys came downstairs at 6:30am.  All loud and cheerful.  “It’s light out, Mommy!  You said we could get up when it was light out!”  Zach heard his brothers, of course, and he wanted to get up and play too.  I plopped Zach in his bouncy seat and told the boys they could race all their matchbox cars down the basement stairs.  (Dee had said this activity would hurt the matchbox cars.  I’m like, “Are you kidding me?  Matchbox cars were created to be beat up by boys.”  He rescinded his rule.)

Racing matchbox cars kept all three boys entertained for a while.  I was half asleep on the couch, but since Cameron kept poking me in the face I never drifted off very long.

By 8:00am, my head was POUNDING from lack of caffeine!  (I guess I could have boiled water on my grill outside, and made french press coffee.)  I managed the pain until 9:00, and then woke the girls up and told everyone, “Get in the car because Mama needs coffee!”

We drove to Starbucks, and then McDonald’s for hashbrowns.  (My head by this time, as Cameron would say, “It hurts SO BAD!”)  I figured if the kids needed to poop or anything, we could dump it at one of these fine establishments.  But as the saying goes,”You can bring a kid to a restroom, but you can’t make him poop.”  (Okay, I made that up.)

I wasn’t sure if the power was on yet at home, and I knew I wouldn’t feel like doing school with a splitting headache  — plus plumbing complications — so we drove to the park.  My Suburban was still loaded with roller blades from our big skate-night this week.  (Does anyone else not unload their vehicle every trip?)  My kids were telling me I was the best mom ever!  It was chilly though, for my kids who’d chosen flip-flops and no coats, so we drove home for warmer items.  The power was on when we got home!  Whew!  I was beginning to worry.  (Like, Did they shut it off on purpose?  Are we on rations now?  Are things really that bad?  I’m not prepared for that!  And so on and so forth.)

A quick dash inside for shoes and jackets, and then back to the park.  (I also ran around the house turning off lights and flushing toilets.)

We had SO MUCH FUN!  Zach had his first solo swing experience.  Kirstyn pushed him.  If it had been anyone but his big sister, I would have been jealous, but they were so darn cute!  I pushed Cameron, and Cory pushed Megan.  Then Cory wanted to push me.  He wouldn’t even let me pump!  After I was going fairly high, Cory announced, “You’re really hard to push.”  I laughed, “A little harder than Megan, huh?”  He said, “A LOT harder!”

It was late tonight by the time schoolwork was finished, but I think my kids would agree that a backwards day was fun.  I had a blast!  (After my caffeine kicked in.)  Not saying I want the power shut off any time soon… let me at least run to Wal-Mart to buy 300 gallons of water first.

Rotten mice, and “crabs” from the woods

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Last months, I asked my kids if they wanted to write a blog post for me.  Kirstyn wrote about catching crabs in the woods, and at the time I smiled and thought, “What a great imagination she has!”

Well, it turns out, there are crabs in my woods!  My boys have been hanging out in the woods together, and the other day they brought me a treasure.  A crawfish.  I had no idea there were crawfish nearby!  We kept it in a bowl of water overnight, and the next day I made the boys bring the crawfish home.  (Back to its home, not mine!)

My boys come home muddy and wet almost every day, but I just smile and make them strip at the door.  I’ll gladly wash all the laundry required for these childhood memories.

They love to bring me treasures, my boys.  I try really, really hard to say, “Oh wow!  Thank you!”  I love their adventurous spirits, creative minds, and brave hearts.  Every once in a while though…

Like last week.  Cameron came to me with an old Wrigley’s gum tin.  Inside the tin, I found a dead mouse, full of wriggling maggots.  I yelled.  I told Cameron that live animals were fine, as long as he doesn’t hurt them, but DON’T touch the dead ones!  I made him scrub with soap and water, and reminded him again that he shouldn’t eat raw eggs out of the chicken coop either.

I think Cameron should have a career with animals.  He can be a farmer, a rancher, a rodeo cowboy, a veterinarian, a marine biologist, it really doesn’t matter!  I have a friend, who has a brother, who’s a horse farrier, who makes really good money, who’s looking for an apprentice…

Is four years old too young?  Not that I’m anxious to be rid of him.  I just think Cameron would love and thrive in an occupation requiring so much muscle and sweat!  Plus, then his mama can come and visit the horses.

(Yeah, I might have some ulterior motives!)

I guess I’ll just keep him for now.  I’ll be his treasure keeper.  All except for the rotting carcasses.  Those, I’m throwing out!

 

Creative writing — kid style

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I asked my kids if they wanted to tell any stories.  The following jokes and tales were dictated to me…

Flour was in a cup, and it got ground.  — Cameron

Daddy once went to the workshop, he got a wrench, and he wacked himself on the head.  Just joking! — Cory

Once upon a time, Daddy was a little boy and he took a red oil can that had red oil in it, and he dumped it on his arm.   He ran to Grammy, and Daddy said, “Grammy!  Grammy!  I’m bleeding!”  She wiped it up and saw there was no bleeding, and took a broom and went, “YA! YA! YA!” and chased him with a broom.  — Cory

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Megan.  She took a walk in the woods, she found wild flowers, she picked them with her sister, she watered them in a cup, and she put them in the fridge, and she froze them, and they died.  Oops!  — Cory

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Mommy.  She went out into the woods, and she found a bear, and she went with the bear and she found some flowers, and then they almost died.  — Cameron

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Bompa.  He went out into the woods and he took a couple of jars to collect snakes.  And he took a basket and fishing rods to catch crabs and fish.  Now he took one silly thing.  He brought a pair of underpants to catch turtles.  He sewed up the legs, and he caught a turtle in it!  There was only a kind of big hole on the top to let the turtle in, and he trapped the turtle.  And then, he went to catch some toads and some snakes.  He caught a snake and a toad at the same time, and the snake ate the toad, and so there was a little frog jumping around in the snake’s belly that made the snake fly all over the place!  — Kirstyn

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Bompa.  He had a trampoline, and he was bouncing.  He went for a walk, after he bounced for a while.  He brought two dogs with him, and they both found a groundhog, and they ate it.  Then, they found a porcupine in the woods, and Brandi, which was the oldest dog, she ate the porcupine and got spikes in her mouth.  They opened her mouth to take the spikes out, but they couldn’t get them out.  So she had to walk with her mouth open, with spikes in it.  She tried to blow them out, but one flew out of her nose, and landed on Bompa’s toe.  — Cory

Editor’s comment:  The only completely non-fictional story in this collection is the story of Dee painting red oil on his arm.  It should be noted that he cried, “Mom! Mom!” and not “Grammy! Grammy!”

My continuing obsession with trees

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We still have snow on the ground!  It’s melting fast though, and will probably be gone by tonight.  I hope it comes back soon.

The kids went sledding after church yesterday.  Kids everywhere were sledding!  We drove a bunch of back roads home from church, and in every town I saw sled tracks down huge hills and kids pulling sleds through the snow.  Such a novel thing, this October snow!  Maybe by January the kids will be bored by snow.  Maybe.  I don’t remember ever being tired of snow when I was a kid!  Me and my brother Steve, we built a lot of snow forts back in the day.

The trees around here were damaged by the snow.  A lot of trees!  It was a wet, heavy snow, and the trees haven’t lost all their leaves yet.  Driving around yesterday, I was sad seeing all the broken branches!  I would have cried if I wasn’t afraid of appearing looney.  Oh, and then last night we watched “Captain America.”  There’s a scene towards the end where soldiers are running through the forest.  There’s gunfire and explosions, and I think I saw a maple tree get blown up.  Then I was sad again!  No people actually died in the making of the movie, and if a movie shows animal trauma the movie-makers are quick to assure us that no animals were harmed during the filming… but what about the trees?!  Poor trees.

I didn’t plant any more trees this year.  I showed self-control, even though I was sorely tempted every time I drove by a tree nursery or saw a baby tree planted in someone else’s yard!  I’m afraid I struggle with covetousness.

My trees are doing well, by the way.  My sugar maples were absolutely gorgeous this fall!  Do you know what I thought yesterday, as we were driving around and I was noticing trees?  I thought how my trees will stay and grow old with me, even after all the kids have moved out.  Do you know anyone as tree-obsessed as I am?  I thought not.