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Monday, April 23, 2012

Projects in Progress

My favorite work boots for the outdoors

I've been working on projects a lot lately. 

This week we are *finally* re-tiling our master bathroom. Do you remember our story of the disappearing tiles from last year? No? When we bought this house, the wall behind the bathroom tile had rotted completely away. We discovered this "delightful detail" when we scrubbed the tile for the first time. The individual tiles just disappeared into the wall space, leaving behind a black void. What fun, right? 

We ripped down the walls and rebuilt them. (Actually, I should clarify: Nathan ripped down the walls and rebuilt them. He's great like that.)

We started fixing that bathroom almost a year ago. 

Yeah, well, we're finally finishing that project. It helps to have free labor from the LDS missionaries who happen to have experience in tiling. I feel quite lucky to have their help this weekend on this project.

The tiles themselves are awesome. We regularly shop at the Habitat ReStore (a clearing house for surplus or reclaimed building materials). I happened to be in town the day they had all tile clearanced for 5 cents per tile. After digging through piles of tiles (piles of tiles....sounds like Dr Suess would say that) I managed to collect several boxes of compatible tiles for a mosaic-looking tile job. I filled our van with 340 tiles that day for around $20. Perfect! 

In other *riveting* news, I tackled a poison ivy bush 8 feet tall on one of my beloved trees. The pernicious ivy met a cruel death at the hands of a crazy lady clad in garbage bags, leather gloves, and galoshes wielding a sharp ax. I won. 

I discovered this homemade headboard project today. It's added to my wishlist. I'm scouting the ReStore for vintage raised panel doors this month. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Peacock for a stroll

Today we were driving into town and saw a most unexpected sight: a full-grown PEACOCK standing in the middle of the road! Delighted, we pulled over and watched it strut along the side of the road. We hopped out and knocked on doors in the area to locate its owner and report its vagrant tendencies before it could become roadkill.

The owner was delighted with our concern and rewarded the children will handfuls of peacock feathers to take home. Sarah admired the iridescent colors in the sunlight. The boys appreciated the feathers a different way. They had a one-of-a-kind sword fight with feathers 4 feet long. The feathers have now joined the ranks of 'special things' on the boys' shelves, alongside the polished rocks, foreign coins, and bleached fox bones.

What a random afternoon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home Schoolers Field Day

I had one of the more embarrassing parental moments of my life during this field day competition. Before we get to that, here are the brief details of the day.

Sarah had registered to compete in a regional home schoolers field day. Daniel was out of public school for a doctor's appointment, so he was able to come along and participate as well.

We picnicked under gorgeous oak trees and reunited with home school friends. Sarah and Dan engaged in the obligatory whining-about-the-heat before scampering off to play and compete.

We cheered for each other and had a wonderful time. Daniel came away with a first place ribbon and a third place ribbon.

After stirring up some confidence, Sarah collected one first place, two second place, and three third place ribbons.

After all the events finished, there was a ginormous game of Red Light/Green Light with ALL the kids ages 5-18. They took up the entire soccer field to play this with 200 kids. We had 10 adult referees. It was a colossal competition.

Daniel's dramatics took center stage when he gave up on the entire game and flopped face-down in anger and tears. I tried to help him feel better and invited him to come have a cold drink in the shade with me. He just yelled and wailed and ignored any consolations of logic or compassion.

I tried for 5 or 10 minutes to help him feel better. It wasn't going anywhere. Knowing I couldn't physically carry him off the soccer field, I cheerfully told him I was going back to the sidelines and he could join me for snacks whenever he chose.

When I reached the spectating parents on the sidelines, I sheepishly explained what was going on. Daniel laid stubbornly in the middle of the playing field, laying face down and absolutely still. Oh what a battle of wills he was having. Too bad for him I wasn't playing....he was only battling his own mind I guess.

After several minutes, he was noticed by the game referees. Several medics ran to his side, thinking he had heat exhaustion or an injury. How embarrassing. Have you ever pretended a child wasn't really YOURS? I tried that.

Unfortunately they asked Daniel who his parent was. Then they came over the loudspeakers calling, "Will RENAE KINGSLEY come to the field? We need RENAE KINGSLEY!"

Oh how embarrassing. I quickly explained that it was only a tantrum, and the medics laughed good-naturedly (they were all parents, too). I still felt humiliated and burned with shame.

Diego definitely enjoyed the entire show. Isn't he riveted?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday country drive

Recently we took a Sunday drive through the countryside near our home. The wildflowers have carpeted the landscape for the past month, blessing us each day with bright colors and cheerful thoughts.

We collectively ooo-ed and ahhhh-ed over each new field full of flowers. It's so picturesque. It's the best time of year to see Texas. Look at this field. It is several acres just full of bluebonnets.

We enjoyed exploring "Get Lost" roads. We haven't done this tradition in a loooong time, thanks to rising gas prices. We used to regularly pick a random country road and say, "Let's get lost! Let's go find out where this road goes!"

In the past we've discovered some amazing places. One time in Idaho our Get Lost Road took us to the tippy top of a volcano. I'll never forget watching the sunset from that viewpoint!

Here are some of our Get Lost views this year:

Isn't this just gorgeous? It's only a couple miles from my house! I feel so lucky to live someplace beautiful. My heart just sings every time I drive into town and pass all these beautiful views.

We packed a picnic and made our drive into a day trip. We found a lovely little park where we feasted and played near a river. Nathan taught the children how to skip rocks and climb trees. I cherish these moments. I loved watching the adoration in my children's faces as they learned from him.

I'm so thankful the Lord blesses us with beauty all around us and lazy afternoons with time to enjoy being alive. I hope your week is full of good things and you are able to take a moment to enjoy the beauty in your spot of Earth!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Diego's turn in the spotlight

I can never get enough of his cuddly warm body. Time is flying by too quickly.

He lights up brighter than a Christmas tree when we say 'hello'. He laughs deeply over his brothers' little dances and tricks. His laughter is instantly contagious.

Each night when we put him in bed, he giggles and rubs his soft blanket over his cheeks. It's incredibly endearing.

I can't say enough how much we all adore him. His devoted fan club dotes on him daily.

When the Lord told me to have a fourth baby, I originally felt a bit like a martyr fulfilling His will. I agreed to follow His plan, but I wasn't very happy about it.

Now I see how foolish I was. My life was so incredibly enriched and expanded when Diego joined our family. How could I have ever doubted the Lord? I never before imagined I could love a baby as much as we love this one. We've even become better parents to our other children as a direct result of having this little boy around.

Oh the Lord is wise. He knew what I needed even more than I knew myself. I'm so glad I listened and obeyed.

Life is good.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Baby Chicks

Our eggs in the incubator

We had a second successful hatching last week. It was so less stressful than the first hatching we experienced two weeks ago.

I had worried so much over our first batch of eggs. When they started hatching, I couldn't sleep at night. I worried too much that some little chicks wouldn't be able to hatch. I spent way too many hours watching them work at chipping away the eggshell. I intervened with many of them who were struggling, delicately chipping away bits of shell with an old dental tool. Since I was opening the incubator so often to assist chicks, I had to constantly adjust it's humidity and temperature to compensate for my actions.

With this batch of eggs, I let nature run its course. I left the incubator alone. Lo and behold, the chicks turned out fine. What a fool I was to worry so much!

Yesterday Nathan took a tub of chicks to work with him. They were part of his annual science fair booth.  There's something irresistible about little fluffy chicks, so engineers played with the chicks all afternoon. They were a huge hit!

Now we have a total of 35 chicks living in Sarah's room until they are big enough to move into the barn. She is one happy child!

Matthew cradles his favorite chick

Eggs ready to hatch

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Daniel Tackles the Wall

(Editor's rant: Yikees. Old news again. I'm just not organized enough to keep up to date on this blog. It has something to do with the fact that our dial-up takes for-eh-ver to upload any pictures. I really do hate to post a story without its pictures....and I really do hate spending so much time uploading the darn things. I know, I know, old news is terrible. I needed to record this for my own documentation, so you can skip reading this one. I promise not to hold a grudge.)

Daniel had one wish for his birthday party: he wanted to go rock climbing and bowling. He never gave a thought that his cast might hold him back, and he didn't let that slow him down. 

Nathan and I served as the cheer leading squad for each child as they took turns bowling. Nathan was so enthusiastic and animated. It made me giggle every time he cheered. The kids just soaked up all the attention like little sponges. 

After a round of laser tag, Dan was ready to tackle the rock climbing walls. He was so eager to give it a try. Dan has always been the most acrobatic climber in our family. I was hoping he wouldn't be too disappointed and frustrated by the hindrance of his cast. He couldn't bend one arm at all, so I was a bit apprehensive.

It turned out Daniel adapted quickly to climbing without bending his elbow. He scaled up the wall faster than Sarah or Matthew. Look at him go!

He made it to the top several times and rang the bell triumphantly. He loved this activity so much and climbed all the courses in the beginner section. 

Then he watched the adult 'regulars' climb the advanced walls. He was determined to give those walls a try, so he convinced Nathan to take him into the crowds of experienced climbers and hook him up to a difficult wall. I couldn't believe how much he enjoyed himself.

After rounds of bowling, laser tag, climbing, and mini-golf it was finally time to head home. 

For a long time Nathan and I had been planning on installing a rock climbing wall in the boys bedroom. I kept thinking we shouldn't build it until the boys were older....but now I'm thinking we can install it much sooner. They were in their element today.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring time

Matthew's feet take him on so many adventures.

The weather is beautiful, the air is fresh and warm on my skin.

My children spend hours each day slowly swinging back and forth under the arms of my favorite trees.

Little bare toes wiggle in the dirt or go exploring for wildflowers.

Our pasture is full of blossoms. 

Yesterday we took a 'hike' on our own property to admire the sweet flowers.

It was like a treasure hunt.

The children built a play house in our pasture out of scrap wood. 

They did it all by themselves. 

They took me on a tour of their home last week.

Life is good. I am deeply content. 

The Lord is so good to us.

We are healthy and have beautiful nature surrounding us. Could I possibly want anything more?

Tangent Alert!

I've also had this song playing in my mind for days. 

It's funny in a twisted way.

I giggle about it mostly because of the artist's emphatic voice inflections when he sings. I can imagine him singing this in a 50's musical, skipping and dancing and looking very much like he is from the set of "The Music Man". 

 I promise I would never poison pigeons in the park.

The lyrics are here.