Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Down by the creek

Hiking was on our summer checklist, and I decided that today would be the day! (fist pumping the air). Last night at dinner, the kids got their letter from the Castro Adventure Club containing their checklists and pertinent information. They had to have it all ready by the departure time of 8am, which was pretty stinkin' early for a summer morning, but when you're hiking, well, early is never early enough. That Oklahoma heat will catch you, I promise. 

We left about 5 minutes late because of a turn around and back to the house type deal thanks to leaving my phone and blankie home alone, scared and afraid. But we were on our way soon enough.

The kids were set to compete in a LEGO speed build competition this afternoon in the city, so we headed that way, and stopped at the first hiking trail we passed on the way there. 

After the 7863457 hours of sunblocking and bug spraying and face sunblocking and putting on hats and making sure we had our waters and our lunches and the bandaids and the anti-itch stick, and the kitchen sink, we headed down and up the trail, which is e v e n t u a l l y where we ended up coming upon the creek. 
There was one other person there, a man with his tiny granddaughter, who had her tiny chubby little feet dipping into the cool water as he smiled at her amusement.
It was precious.
I kinda hated to interrupt, but we hike a LOT, and it's pretty rare we come across this kind of potential fun, so I unleashed the einsteins on God's great beauty and stood back and watched. 

He was a little wary of the depth of the creek. She helped softly talk him in, hand in hand. 
I never take for granted the way these two get along. I don't know if it's the age gap, or the gender difference, or just their way, but I can count on one hand the number of times they've not gotten along amazingly well. Super blessed.

Baby einstein liked the waterfalls. He would climb each and every one. All 6 inches of them. 
Mad skills. 

There was a mother duck with 3 ducklings that kept us company while we stopped and ate lunch. 
Watching her lead them over the waterfalls and rushing rocks was SO much fun. 

lunchtime ussie!

On the hike back, the three of us talked all about how great God does making things like hidden creeks and duck families that swim all in a row, and little E wanted to stop and say a quick prayer.
Em + I were a little confused, but we bowed our heads, right there in the middle of the woods and amen-ed to his sweet prayer of thanks and beauty, and asking God the favor of telling daddy "thank you" for working so hard so we can go hiking and eat special lunchables even though he couldn't come with us. 
How does THAT overfloweth your cup? Ya know?
One of those seconds in life you stop and think "we must be doing something right, right?"

Also, turtles, much?
I love them to death, but I would NOT want to fall in THIS part of the creek!

Enjoying your summer?
I certainly hope so.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

In the Trenches

When we moved into this house, we gained not only a house we love, but neighbors we love, too! Mrs O. is always thinking of the kids and watching out for things around the house when we are away. She brings us veggies from the farmers market and secret-recipe-laden-bread she drives an hour away to buy. Mr. O. is always on the go. He's always helping haul fallen tree branches to the city or doing maintenance on a mower I can't seem to start. This past week, with all the rain, he decided to help us get rid of the pool that forms by the driveway when it rains a lot. 
He came over, shovels in hand, like a knight preparing for battle, and this would definitely count as just that. By the time the einsteins came home from VBS, he had a small river running across the lawn. The boys couldn't wait to go "muddin'" in the water with little trucks. 

Em was just happy to squish her toes in the soft clay-ish soil. 

Mr O watching the pool drain during a much needed water break.
 The kids lugged buckets of mud over to a tree in the front corner of the yard where the fire hydrant draining had eroded the soil away. 

We had to stop for a couple days to let the ground dry out a little before going back to start transitioning the trench to yard level at the sides. 
With all this rain we've been getting, this is going to be a huge help!

We are so very blessed to have neighbors like this! It makes work just a little more fun!

Thank you, Mister O!

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Going Bak to Cedar Isle

When I was small, my sister and I went on some great fishing adventures. We had more fun in an inflatable boat with two poles and some pretty jigs than two people should. We'd go out on the pond, sometimes pulling a second boat behind us, sometimes we'd even take out THREE boats and paddle around, fishing, frog hunting, or just trolling the afternoon away. We must have been quite the sight. We never did make it off the boat onto the island, though. Not sure why. Maybe we were scared. Maybe we didn't see the need to, maybe we were just content with boating, but it was always a mysterious place. 
Years later, some friends and I boated out to Cedar Isle and built some sort of a shack that we had fastened out of pieces of an old, dilapidated fort that someone had built long before we had arrived. We built a roof from a tarp, and added a mailbox, a doorbell (or warning chime?), and some old rusted tin cans and glass soda bottles we found floating about the island. It wasn't much to look at, and we never went out there more than a handful of times, but it was special, and it was adventurous, and it felt so good to have a secret fort on an island that no one went to except us and the swans that nested there in the spring. 
Ever since we moved back, I've been curious about the fort. Was it still standing after two decades, wind, and hail, tornado season after tornado season?

About a week ago, I found an inflatable raft with paddles at the grocery store. (I know, weird place, right?) But it brought back all the memories of being a kid on that pond, and I threw it in the cart. It didn't make it out of the box until yesterday when hubby left for his run. We waved him off and as I turned to go inside, there it was. 
It was a beautiful day, and Cedar Isle was calling my name.
It took a little convincing for Evan, but we were setting off from shore about 15 minutes later.  
We only brought a crappy cell phone with us, just in case we got caught in a tsunami or something and all our possessions went to the bottom of the lake for-eh-vuh. I mean, how would we survive without our iphones, right? ;) And, I've lost the battery charger for the lifeproof camera, so we were stuck documenting with a glorified Razor phone (y'all KNOW what I'm talking about!)

The einsteins in the maiden voyage to Cedar Isle

After a loop around the island, we docked and ventured onto the island that would transport us back in time. The fort wasn't there anymore, but someone else had been there! There were bits and pieces of the old fort we had built, but they were, once again, rebuilt into a new fort. They had made a kind of lean-to with baling twine. We found a dog's collar whose date was 2000, and scattered remains of old tin cans and tools, rusted and left. 

The einstens and the new fort!

 I wonder who discovered the place after we had left it so long ago. I wonder if the remnants of the fort we had found were recycled from a fort even before that one, and how many forts had recycled on that island. I kinda wish there was a log there. A geocache from every child that found neverland on that island. 

Cedar Isle, with our street in the background.

The "2000" fort. Soon, maybe, to be upcycled once again...
While we were readying to set off for shore, hubby came over the dam. We hollered and yelled, and he saw us! You can just baaaaarrrrrely see us on this picture. (Look for the slightly neon green dot!)

We had taken aboard a big umbrella in case the rain came, but it made us a faster way to get back to shore (once we got into the wind). Hubby called it the "Mary Poppins Technique", which sounded better than the "Redneck-Sailboat" we had come up with. 

We came ashore and told daddy all about our adventures on the lake, and turtles, and waves, and fish jumping, and an abandoned beach ball, and hidden staircases, and the baby island, and the fort and the island and dreaming of the next trip.

I think we'll need a bigger boat...or three.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On Turtles & Trenches

Do you recall the turtles we had at our old house, that would come back year after year, to come get their turtle chow and say hello throughout the summer + spring? They were one of the hardest things to leave behind when we moved, those sweet little turtles. 
But yesterday, we had a shy little girl come by at the new house (can you call it that after a year??). Evan named her "lilly", and we rushed in to grab the paint pens to mark something on her shell, which were nowhere to be found, so nail polish was runner-up, and since Speedy already had a heart, and Blue Star had a star, we decided to give her a heart, since we're preeeetttty sure she's a she, but that's tricky, sexing turtles, so I'm not making any promises. 

So, without further ado, the newest animal at the Black Cat Manor...
Lilly the Box Turtle!
Turtle tramp-stamp
 She didn't eat any of our kibbles. I'm not sure if it's because of the brand or not. She was really shy. Maybe next time. 

This picture was hilarious. I had to share. 
We just needed mister pug outside as well, but he was snoring away in the air conditioning. 

"Where am I...and why are there so many hairy beasts around here?!?"
The stare-down.  
"That's MY kibbles you got there, short stuff. Leave now and I'll forget this ever happened..."

My friend Courtney hates turtles. 
HATES them.

I'm not sure how we're friends.

She stayed the night in our front garden and left sometime before we awoke this morning. 

Evan's friend, Ethan. He seems as enamored as I am with these little walking shells. 
Happy Trails, Lilly! Hope to see you back again soon!


This morning, after Emma left for VBS, (she's a group leader now that she's graduated 5th grade, so she has to be there early), two little boys started yelling for me to "Come NOW! Come QUICK!". I ran out, preparing myself for the broken leg or chopped off hair, or stranded-boy-at-the-top-of-the-curtains-he-climbed, but instead found them outside on the porch watching the city guys open the hydrant. 
It was flushing-the-hydrant time!! Woo hoo!!
They ran over to see Evan's favorite city guy, only to find two new guys, probably confused as to why this little boy was so excited to see them. 

 Evan, jumping up + down, asked me to pleeeeeeeease get the boats, and I did, as fast as I could, which is not always fast enough when it's hydrant time. 


After about 30 minutes of boating and rubber ducking, I scurried them off to get shoes on for VBS (which, by the way, was NOT the coolest thing I could ever have done, but...)

On the way out, we backed all the way up to the hydrant and thanked the new hydrant flushers and drove through the "waterfall" to VBS. 

And their day was already off to a GREAT start.

We are so blessed. 

Happy Summer!!

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