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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Carver and daughter landscaping, INC.

As our other major yard project this year, we put in a patio.

What was growing alongside our house was weeds and ant hills and we were tired of it. Plus, we needed a place to eat outside. (I mean, who doesn't?)

before pic:

We hired a landscaper to prep the area (dig it down, level it, lay gravel and pack it down) and we layed the stone.

All prepped:

We decided on natural flagstone which is massively heavy. I am certain a few of those big pieces weighed more than Sandi and I put together.
It's a good thing we had these...
The kids were all about the sand pile which needed to be spread for the stone to lie on.
But then the waiting started.  Ella was ridiculously excited about this patio.  I love how much she loves home improvement.  I think it is all about beautifying.  This chick has a real love of making things pretty.

The laying of the stone was actually quite a challenge and the heft of them became the easy part.  Matching jagged edges and uneven stone widths along unlevel sand was tough for me with my limited spatial skills.  I think my skills improved, though, and I am contemplated going back to retake the SATs just so I can redo the spatial part for a better score.

Some highlights of the patio project:

Our neighbor Chris came over to check on us and Sandi said , "It's like the biggest puzzle ever." 

Chris paused and said sagely, "No, life is the biggest puzzle ever."

I went to Home Depot and asked the guy,  "Do you have anything to tamp slabs of flagstone into place?"
He shrugged and said,  "Water."
"Water?" I repeated.
"How do you think the Grand Canyon was made?"

How much time did this guy think we had???
So about 6 weeks or so later, we are (mostly) done with the patio and love it.  We need something with more hold than stone dust to put in between the stones since the small ones are too moveable and the stone dust ends up all over, rather than packing down in the grooves. 

But until then, we did the only logical thing to do when you finish your patio. 

We had a patio party!

For dessert: strawberry shortcake, turtle ice cream pie and raspberry pie ( I seriously suck at pie making and tried a lattice crust only to have Sandi inform me that you are supposed to weave the pie crust into a lattice.  Who frigging knew?)
Our kids LOVED staying up till dark (something they rarely do because they wake like roosters in the morning regardless of the time they go to bed.)
I love this picture of Ella for so so many reasons.  It is her in every way.
I think Maya was just excited to have fire at her fingertips.

I think this is the summer of the campfire picture. We want to see just how many of these we can collect. Why not?

Monday, July 25, 2011

My new four letter swear word

Who needs to throw f-bombs when you can use a much nastier word for better effect?


I will admit it.  My mommy career to date has had a strong focus in avoiding such bugs. When I hear a parent say lice, I empathize briefly and then usher my children away with deft speed.  I don't let the kids share brushes, clips, headbands or ponytail holders with anyone.  The rest of the time I spend in active denial that something like lice even exists and could potentially ever live in my children's virgin hair.

If you could be homophobic or racist about lice, then I suppose I am.

Enter in my lovely, long-haired niece who came to stay (and what fun we had!) inadvertently carrying a head full of lice, or nits at the least, which she likely got from summer daycare.

She slept on Ella's princess air mattress, on our pillows, snuggled the girls' stuffed animals, sat on the couch, had storytime in our bed, used our hairbrushes and played in the girls' beds. 

Then we went camping for days with unwashed hair, same princess blow up mattress, all packed into the same tent with pillows and blankets and sleeping bags askew and I'm sure you can see the inevitable end to this tale.

Yesterday morning's discovery of a moving bug in Ella's hair set my trajectory for the day.  Strip the beds, wash everything in hot, run to the store at 7 AM on a Sunday morning for lice shampoo and giant bendy flowers they have been eyeing up every trip as a lice consolation prize, cancel the day trip to camp and console a weeping Ella, take a deep breath and brace for the screams that accompanied the painful pulling of the lice comb through unconditioned hair.  (Can you picture Maya's curls being pulled through a comb tight like a seive?)

If there could possibly be good news about lice it is this: once you kill them on the head (I found a pesticide-free brand that I pray works) and comb the dead ones out, your child technically doesn't have lice anymore.  The key is not getting reinfected with the nits that can be anywhere cloth or carpet is in your house.  Apparently the reinfection rate is very high, a fact I am also trying to remain in active denial about.

So instead of sitting in the sun at camp yesterday, I did hot wash after hot wash of bedding, towels, clothes, random fleece blankets the kids have in their room, pillows and pillow pets. I bagged three trash bags of stuffed animals in trash bags along with the princess mattress and all the sleeping bags and put them in the garage.  I soaked all hair brushes, combs and picks in rubbing alcohol and bagged up all hair accessories. After 1-2 weeks (need to firm up the time) any nits will die in the dark without human blood to feed on.  Nice, huh?

After having an ant infestation this spring, the recurrence of our summer fruit fly problem, a rash on my body that the doctor (incorrectly) thought was bed bugs or scabies (can I get a collective EWWWWW) a couple of months ago but turned out to be an allergy to a weed in my garden and now lice I can tell you that I AM FRIGGING DONE WITH INSECTS.

My organic loving self is contemplating dropping a chemical bomb on the house when we leave for vacation in 6 days.

On the up side, neither Sandi nor I have lice and the girls and I did have some impromptu fun in our day of quarantine.  We went raspberry picking at my friend Jeanne's house.
The really strange and amazing thing about Jeanne's house is that it used to be my friend Martha's house.  Martha was a dear friend of mine who committed suicide 2 years ago, a shocking loss that has impacted my life in countless ways.  Jeanne, unbeknownst to me, then bought her house and now it is full of love and life again.  Martha, and now Jeanne, had a raspberry jungle in her backyard and we got to go picking there yesterday (and not infecting anyone with lice).

Last year when we picked, I had to carry a crying Maya around the raspberry thicket.  Fun.  This year they were happy and content.  Ella nearly filled a quart, reminding me that in her growing independence, she is becoming so helpful!  I had to drag them away when it was time to go with promises to return.

Maya was accumulating way fewer berries...
as it turns out collecting slugs was much more gratifying.
Checking her slug collection:
Ella was enamoured with these grasshoppers who she asserted were "making a family".  I have no idea how she came up with this, having never had the (very complicated in our case) birds and the bees talk.  She felt confident she knew which was the mom and which was the dad since she saw eggs in the moms belly.  Not being an expert on grasshopper sexuality, I declined to comment and photographed instead.
Raspberry pie anyone?
Lice check this morning came out clear.  Here's to a lice free day today!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dear Lily Bay State Park and Moosehead Lake: we love you. that's all.

We had a truly wonderful two night camping trip with the Manhart's at Lily Bay State Park on Moosehead Lake in this beautiful state we get to call home.

Sandi's camera logged 539 pictures, 98% of which she took. She narrowed them to 78 she liked. I narrowed those to 30 something for the blog (plus one of her in her bikini that I took and couldn't resist). So sue me for excessive pictures on this post. When your days drip with sunshine, pine needles, food cooked and eaten outdoors and a giant lake full of character and generosity during a Maine heat wave, it can't be helped.

I will admit there was one point when it started to rain during our one full day there, Maya was being especially obstinate and our kayak trip into the lake lasted about 3 hours less than I wanted it to it (it lasted about 35 minutes) and is all the work to get  here worth it?

Guess what?  It is.

When you are surrounded by this:

and all of this:

When the rain abated and the sun was trying to shine again, we headed back to the beach to the most wild time.  Thunder storms were threatening to move our way, the wind was whipping and tearing through the lake making crashing surf and lots of noise.  We had the beach to ourselves and it was pure, primitive magic.  Even the ducks came to play.

Can you feel the love?

We've got our camping spot picked out for next year (where we plan to be joined by the Smith's!). I already can't wait to go back!
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