Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school.  Fourth grade and second grade, how on Earth did that happen?  As I wrote on Facebook today, along with another smiling picture of these two, "the days are long but the years are short."  I think that sentiment originally applied to babyhood but I'm finding it so appropriate lately.  The summer raced by and I can't believe that school is back in session. I haven't even written down all of our summer adventures.  But on the flip side, the 'witching hour' post-dinner of getting everyone cleaned up, books read to, bathed, tucked in four different times, where's the cat, what about that one really important toy and what happens when there's a man on first and the pitcher blah blah blah.  That hour or two sometimes feels like the longest part of my day.  

But here we are.  Fourth grade and second grade and firmly entrenched in big kid land.  Much thought was put into these two outfits.  Reina had her's planned for a while, down to the socks with foxes on them and a special necklace to borrow from me.  Will waffled between a sports shirt (naturally) or a tshirt printed to look like a tuxedo.  He ultimately chose the sports ensemble and is apparently saving the tuxedo shirt for a fancy occasion.  

Will asked that we take pictures at home this time around instead of at school. I don't think I've ever done that actually and while I was tempted this time, just because of that request, we stuck with our front steps.  It's tradition!  Didn't we have Coco in last year's?  

No Coco, but lots of ham.  
As per tradition, I picked up everybody after school to get the full report of the first day's activities.  Will was succinct.  Everything was fine, his friends are fine, the teacher is fine, nothing too exciting happened on the first day.  I forgot erasers in his school supplies.  Reina had a few more details to fill in.  She's delighted with her teacher.  They played some getting-to-know-you games.  There are two new kids in her class and someone else moved away.  She has some friends from last year in her class but the other ones are in the other class and that's sad.  She's wearing the shirt with the puppy on it tomorrow or perhaps the kitten and purple pants.

So on to day 2 and a new school year. I can't wait to see what this one brings but I wouldn't mind if it slowed down just a little bit.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The scene:  Almost dinnertime last night at the Pauley household.  
The characters:  Coco, Tootsie, Trigger and a bunch of humans who weren't feeding the pets fast enough.  
The location:  Tootsie's dog dish.  

Coco says, "If Coco doesn't have dinner, no one gets to have dinner.  


Tootsie says, "Don't eat the cat, don't eat the cat, don't eat the cat."  

Friday, August 12, 2016

It's August?!

Yes, it's totally August and back to school is just around the corner for the Pauley kids.  How that happened?  I really have no idea.  The kids and I just got back from a weekend trip in Minnesota for my cousin's wedding and Will just had his first football practice.  August is off to a busy start!

Here are some highlights from our weekend in Minnesota.
Look who's wearing a tie!  A few weeks before the trip, Will told me he wanted to wear a suit to the wedding.  Not ready to purchase a suit for someone who has grown out of stuff I bought in April, I told him that he could get a nice dress shirt and new tie because there's a slight chance that will still fit this winter.  We went to the department store and while some of us were distracted by Under Armour sweatshirts, we did successfully find a shirt that he would agree to wear.  My aunt's fiancee had to help with the tie part while we were waiting for the wedding to start so I get no credit for that lovely Windsor knot.   

Mom's weird attempt to be artistic.  I was also trying to get her to smile.  

Will and the groom's sons killing time before the wedding starts.  Electronics have a way of bringing a couple of introverted kids together.  Will liked their suits.  
The bulldog ring bearer almost stole the show.  He was wearing a custom tux and a jaunty top hat that he'd already discarded by the time he turned the corner to head to the altar.  Every wedding needs a bulldog.  

Brother and sister dancing at the reception.  This literally lasted for less than 5 seconds and it only lasted that long because I said they'd get cake if they danced together.  Reina was more game, naturally but Will would have none of it. 

Reina and my cousin Katie.  Cute girls!  

Reina running down the battery in my phone.  

Once my phone was dead, Reina had the camera to keep her busy.  CHEESE!  
The day before the wedding, we had a bbq at my cousin's house.  My cousin has two girls who are in jr high and high school and they live in a tree-lined street in a gorgeous part of the city.  None of that is really relevant to my next story, except for the part about the girls growing up.  My cousin pulls me aside during the bbq and says that she'd like to give something to Reina but she wanted to check with me first.  Her girls have outgrown their vast American Girl doll collection and my cousin wanted to know if Reina would like to take them home.  We get the catalog at home and Reina's been mildly interested but had never asked for one herself.  I told my cousin to show Reina the stuff and we could see what she wanted to do.  Two overstuffed suitcases later (thanks to Grandma for bringing home an iron doll bed) and here you go.
Meet Emily and Cecilia.  They have outfits and shoes and a newly acquired pet pug and they are adjusting to life in Wyoming.  

My aunt's table on her patio. I love that little dog planter and the birds.  
Hydrangeas!  Show-offs!  My sole hydrangea at home is still growing and I finally have a few budding flowers.  Nothing like these gorgeous blooms.  Maybe someday!  

We had a really nice visit to Minnesota.  After the wedding festivities, we stayed another day to see family and shop at the outlet malls.  Reina hit the jackpot for school clothes and my suitcase weighed 46.5 pounds on the way home as a result.  Will found new shoes, a backpack and football cleats.  He still needs some school clothes and that's part of the plan for this weekend.  As the summer winds down, I think our trip was the perfect cap to the summer of 2016.  I'm so glad my monsters are such good travelers.  They understand how the airport works but they are still young enough to enjoy novelties like hotel elevators and little snack packs that you can buy for $8 on the airplane.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Baseball Summer of 2016

Just hanging out on third waiting for a hit home.  
Will's baseball season wrapped up last weekend and I regret not writing about it as the season went along.  This was his first year playing in AAA and he had a few new changes to learn compared to last year's AA season.  The biggest change was no more pitching machine.  This was the first year of kid's pitching.  So lots of walks, strikeouts as the season progressed and a bunch of hit by pitches.  It was definitely exciting.  Players in AAA can also steal one base per play, except no stealing home.  Will was good at listening to his base coach and scampering to the next base on a wild pitch or even just a strike.  He got a little speedy over the winter and it was fun to see him zipping along the base path.  

More hanging out.  It was easiest for me to get pictures of him on third plus I was also pretty invested in the games (irrationally so?) and too nervous/loudly cheering/being irritated with the other team's parents to take many pictures.  Yes, I know it's a game.   
Will played on the Indians again this year and he had a great coaching staff, including his dad who managed the dugout.  Will played just about every position except first base and pitching.  He was pretty excited to play catcher and he improved a lot as the season went one.  I can't say I was crazy seeing him behind the plate but luckily catchers have tons of padding and once he even caught the ball before it could whack the umpire in the face so there's that....  


Will's hitting improved as the season went on, too.  He had a pretty good eye for judging pitches and he'd get on base with a walk quite a bit.  He got hit by the pitch a few times.  In one particularly close game, he was up to bat and the pitch came right at him but he ducked.  I found myself stifling back a yell along the lines of "just get hit by the pitch!  It'll be okay!"  Yes, in hindsight I felt weird about instructing my beautiful 9-yr old to go ahead and get hit by a ball coming in pretty fast but in relaying that story to a co-worker who's son plays high school baseball, she told me that those coaches tell the kids to "wear it" meaning 'get hit by the pitch.'  I told Will that if he heard mom say "wear it" he'd know what to do.  Yes, I also feel weird typing that here but baseball is a complicated game and sometimes you just have to get on base.  Or something like that.
"Wear it" Will!  But only if it's not coming at your face or brain.  
The baseball season ended last Saturday when the Indians lost in the semi-final round of the tournament.  They finished with a record right around .500 but they had some great games and it was a nice group of kids.  Football season is right around the corner but Will is still in the front yard with his mitt, throwing a tennis ball up against the house.  We sure do like our baseball.  And our baseball player.
Baseball sister who wants to try her hand at softball next summer.  Stay tuned!  



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dolly, Lolly, Ren and Rey

Coco is super interested in the chickens.  Also interested in holding them in her mouth.  
So it's high time I wrote about the girls.  The chicken girls.  Dolly, Lolly, Ren and Rey.   Yes, I know it seems crazy to add more critters to this already hectic life but some days they are the easiest thing to take care of and sometime soon we'll have fresh eggs in the fridge.  In the meantime, we have little bug eaters and weed destroyers and poultry entertainers.  
On one of their first excursions in the backyard.  They were so little!  

Reina has been a great help with the chickens.  They might not appreciate her enthusiasm but she helps take good care of them. 
We kept the chickens in the basement for about 6 weeks while we waited for the weather to warm up and for Glenn to build the chicken coop.  It was tough keeping the dogs and cat out of the chicken room and we are all pretty happy that they are finally outside. Well, except for Coco.

A few weekends ago, while trying to get some chores done, I gave Reina the camera to take pictures of the chicken girls and she did a great job!  Here are some poultry pics from the perspective of a 7-yr old.
Meet Ren.  She's a Barred Rock.  She's still the smallest chicken and the friendliest.  We thought she'd be the leader of the pack but that title goes to the Rhode Island Red named Rey.  I don't see her picture in this post but she's pretty.  And bossy.  

This is Dolly an Orpington.  Dolly was a few weeks older than the rest of the gang when we got them and she's pretty shy still.  She's also not the sharpest tool in the chicken shed but that's okay.  She routinely gets panicky when she misses the entrance to the chicken coop and can't figure out why everyone else is on the other side of the wire.  There's a reason that chickens haven't taken over the planet yet.  But she's pretty!  

Ren and the rhubarb.  


Meet Lolly the Australorp.  She's a little dinosaur.  She's shy but warming up to us especially when you are holding corn on the cob.  
The Chicken Coop to end all chicken coops and the chief architect/construction manager/laborer/painter.  
We agree that our chickens are living the 1% life.  Besides being spied on by a few dogs and a very interested cat, these four are living the life in a big run and a warm coop.  We let them out in the yard when we are home and they love hanging out on or under the deck.  'm surprised at how entertaining it is to watch them just be chickens.  Ren chased another bird out of the yard one afternoon.  If one of them starts running, they all run even if there's no reason for it.  They are discovering table scraps and made quick work of a piece of watermelon today.  There's something oddly peaceful about watching them peck and scratch the ground.  While I never pictured myself eating dinner on our deck with chickens running around, I'm so glad we brought them home.  We are having fun with our chicken girls.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Baby Boy Cousin

Back around Christmastime, I took this picture.  A nice family shot of grandkids and grandparents right?  It's also the scene of Pop-pop receiving some big news.  See Grandma and grandkids found out at Thanksgiving that Baby Boy Cousin would be making his appearance in late spring, but Pop-pop was on a big trip and had to wait to find out when he got home.  So when Aunt Vicky took this picture, instead of saying "say cheese!" she said, "say.... 'Aunt Vicky is having a baby!' I love Reina's expression the most, besides Pop-pop's (who still hasn't fully grasped the news.)  Surprise!  


Baby Boy Cousin is a delight. He's handsome and healthy and pretty chill.
Uncle Glenn and BBC on his second day on the planet.
I got the chance to stay with Vicky and BBC on the night after he was born and it was exhausting but so cool to get to spend time with a NEW newborn and his super hero mommy.  He was very sweet and liked to be cuddled, especially in the wee hours of the morning.  I was crazy tired the next day but it was completely worth it.
We had some serious eye contact going on, he was probably amazed at the giant shadows under my eyes.  
So BBC is one month old and I still haven't wrangled all four cousins together for a group picture but that's my goal for July!  Everyone looking at and smiling at the camera.  I can dream right?   Toddler Cousin has adjusted pretty well to her baby brother and Will and Reina are delighted with the new addition to our crazy family.  Reina really enjoys the babysitting role and Will always says he doesn't want to hold the baby or anything like that, but once he's within arms reach, Will is holding his hand or rubbing his blonde hair.  So yes, I need to get that picture taken.  Everyone is growing up so fast!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June

It's mid-to-late June and this month, in a word has been HECTIC.  WHIRLWIND-ISH.  JAMPACKED.  Getting the picture?  Will's baseball season is in full swing.  The chickens have a coop that's not in the basement of our house (yah!).  Our den is undergoing a redecoration.  More on all of these things later.  Most importantly, we have a new cousin!  Baby boy cousin was born on June 1 (his birthday is a palindrome!) and he is the cherry on the crazy sundae that has been the last few months.  Baby boy cousin is healthy and delightful and both cousins think he's pretty cool.  Reina helped me babysit him last week and she was all in.  She sang songs and even helped me change diapers, which is something she wasn't interested in with the original Baby Cousin.  Will isn't interested in diaper duty but he can't keep his hands off of BBC's fuzzy blonde head.  More baby pictures and cousin pictures coming soon.

Will is playing Triple-A baseball this year which means that kids pitch, unlike last year's adventure with the pitching machines.  Will has a good coach and a nice bunch of kids on the team.  They are all adjusting to kid pitching and the games don't have as much hitting as they did last year but there are still exciting moments.  Will likes to play catcher which makes his mom nervous but he's really liking it and has stayed injury free so far.  More baseball pictures coming soon!

Ren, Rey, Dolly and Lolly (the chickens) are doing well and are now living in the Taj Mahal of chicken coops in the backyard.  Glenn designed and built the coop and it's a stronghold to keep chickens in and predators out.  Predators meaning coyotes, raccoons, hawks, Tootsie, Trigger and Coco.  Those last three have expressed a particular level of interest in the chickens.  I'm hoping the dogs will eventually find them boring and Coco doesn't usually get to mingle in the backyard unaccompanied but right now she can watch them from the window and apparently it's fascinating cat television.  Pictures of the coop and teenage chickens coming soon!

Over the winter my cousin Laura of Laura Rennie Interiors (http://laurarennieinteriors.com/blog?category=E-design) helped us look at some ideas for redecorating our den.  It's the most used room of our house but we hadn't painted or done much to make it fit our style since moving in more than 7 years ago.  Thanks to Laura's cool ideas, we have a new look for the den - one that's still very much a work in progress - if only sofa's fell from the sky.  Except that would be dangerous.  But we did paint it a new color last weekend and now we can work on new shelves and painting the trim until we embark on the great sofa buying spree of 2016.  Between chicken coops, room painting, gardening and other little projects, we are quite the DIY couple right now.  We are also a little overtired.

So that's June in a nutshell.  Pictures of all of these exciting events and new additions coming soon.