Thursday, June 27, 2013

Staining the Deck

The conversation in our house went like this:

Moth:  "You're gonna let them do WHAT?"
Me:  "Stain the treehouse deck.  Eight extra hands.  It'll be done in a jiffy."

And so it went . . .


Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Little . . . planking . . . on the wall at our local high school.  He looks like he was full of it on this day.  That grin is so ornery!!

Treehouse in Progress

Where are the pictures of just the deck, the walls and the rafters?  I don't know.  We got quite a bit of snow in that building phase, so maybe I don't have any.  Fast forward to the roof, being put up by Contractor and friend, Sammy, affectionately known as "Uncle Sam" and MOTH.

Windows.  I found the best deal from a manufacturer of chicken coop windows in Pennsylvania.  They were quite affordable and they work perfectly.  Here's Big (it must have bee Middle school volleyball season) modeling the porthole windows like Vanna White.

Almost done :)  The deck is missing and it needs paint and primer.  More snow fell and now, it looks TOTALLY different because of the trees and all the leaves. 

From the back view.  You have to climb the hill and come around the "four-clump" of trees for access, which I love :) I also love the sliding barn door. 

View from the inside.  Since this picture, the kids have made curtains and the deck is complete.  Finished product pictures coming soon. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Treehouse: Site Selection

The treehouse was our gift to the kids for Christmas this year.  Yea, they got an empty box with a tree drawn inside and a book called The Complete Guide to Treehouses.  They got it right away and were happy with slim gifts and the promise of a treehouse.

Research, however, let us know that there was a problem, Houston.  The problem being:  we don't have a tree that is fit for a house.  It's the wrong kind of tree altogether.  Too soft and not fit to a long-term structure.  Damn.  So . . . . .

I came up with a modified design for a stilt-house nestled between these trees.   I like it even more because (a) it's not to hard for ME to get into it and (b) I envision it as excellent storage once the kidlings fly the coop.  Yes, I do intend to live her for that long.

This picture is right after site selection and the utilities and other companies had come through to mark lines.  Actually, looks like we had the concrete footers either dry fitted or poured in order to build a platform for the treehouse.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What is it about the library?

Don't get my wrong . . . I love it.  I love that they LOVE the library.  I've been strategically planning trips to the library on afternoons when I am scheduled to be on call.  On this day, the kids came home with 21 books . . . each of the girls checked out 5 and Little couldn't get it to under 6.  By 5 o'clock when I was done with the shift, Middle had finished her first book, Big was well into her second and Little and Middle had each "finished" three.  I chose an awesome variety on the Japanese Internment from World War II and learned a TON about what my dad's family endured.  Amazing.   Next library trip  . . . this week.   Which reminds me . . . whoa!!  My book list is way behind!!

45% contained
The air quality is much better today and it's even possible to be outside.

Friday, June 14, 2013

This summer's project . . .


Paint and roof.  It's way, way, way overdue.  This is the summer for an exterior upgrade to our house and a new roof.  It should have been done last year or maybe the year before.  We have massive hail damage.  

Paint color selection for something as large as your house is a lot of responsibility.  I feel like I'm naming a child.  I want it to be sleek and fabulous.  I want it to be perfectly perfect.  I'm an earth tone kind of girl, but I also love color.  Our interior is done in neutrals .  . . but with color here and there.  I have a green dining room, a blue office, a red wall in the basement and an orange accent in the basement.  I have bedrooms that are blue and green, lavender, pastels and red and blue.  I like everything.  

So . . . 

I took bids. 
I hired a painter. (Whom I really like.)

He's been a gem with color selection, and after about 6 hours of virtual design on Kwal's website (which sucks eggs, by the way), I think I've got a good idea.   And let me say, I'm surprised.  When I contracted with this painter, I told him I wanted a fresh look on the same tired theme.  We have a brown and cream house.  I wanted that same thing, but richer . . . less grey.  I wanted to be safe, and get sort of the same thing as the other brown and white houses in our brown and white neighborhood.  But the more I looked and the more I played with color, the more I changed my mind.  I'm going for the new, trendy, two-toned color scheme in colors that were not even suggested together.  Eek.  Yes, I'm jumping off the cliff, taking a colorful leap of faith and going big and bold.  Eee-gads, I hope I love it.  

For the record:  Old pix 

Front . . . . grey-brown house w/ cream trim and black accents.  We have black garage doors and shutters. 

I only took this shot so I could play with the virtual designer.  I needed that horizontal trim line to establish my look.  It should be a dramatic before and after. 


Fire . . . Again.

Truly, the ONE downside to living in Colorado:  WILD FIRES.

This is day four of the Black Forest Fire, now dubbed the most destructive fire in Colorado history.  It's surreal to think I'm living ten driving miles from the southern edge of this massive burn.  It has spread so quickly to the north, I'm amazed, because let's be honest .    . .  IF it has spread an equal distance to the south, the entire north end of the springs, including OUR house would be in the burn site.  I'm sitting in my backyard this morning, watching the world wake up and typing up a blog -- but for the grace of a wind out of the south.

Newscasters and community members keep talking about last year's Waldo Canyon and keep comparing it.  I'm thinking there's really no comparison.  It's just "what we know" and our current point of reference.  Waldo Canyon was terrible, don't get me wrong and even though I just said it kind of annoys me when newscasters make comparisons, I'm going to do it anyway.  Waldo Canyon's burn took a couple of long weeks to burn up 18,000 acres of land.   The Black Forest Fire has done nearly equal damage in only four days.   I think the most devastating facet of this fire is the loss of homes.  I know, I know, last year, homes were lost too, but it does seem different.  Last year, the fire started in in the back woods and residents had lots of warning .  . some even spent days on pre-evacuation notice or were asked days in advance to make a voluntary evacuation.  This year, news coverage of the fire started at about 2 pm, only about 30 minutes after it sparked.  By 3:30, we were looking at live aerial video of homes burning to the ground.  No notice.  No chance to get your firebox, even IF you had it packed.  No opportunity to get your pets, your photos, your important stuff.

Though we have friends that were impacted (greatly) by last year's fire, we have MORE friends impacted by this one.  We know three families who have likely lost everything.  One home is on the total loss list.  One home is not on any list, but the entire "street" of winding pine driveways is on the "total loss" list.  It's horrible, just tragic.  

We have friends that have evacuated from the pre-evac zone and have moved in with us for at least a few days.  I'm glad to have the distraction for me AND the kids.  I'm glad to have a sister-wife in the house.  Sigh.

This morning, isn't too bad .  .  but I bet it's gonna be another smoky day in Colorado.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What they will remember me for . . .


Sometimes I have that moment of motherhood where I think, "what will my kids remember me for?"  For example, I remember my mom for being fun and dedicated but also ruling with an iron fist.  I didn't cross her, partly out of respect and partly because I was scared of her.  She ruled our lives with firm dictatorship, but she was playful and let us get dirty, too.  

My kids . . . what will they remember me for?  I'm not sure, but I hope it's not, "Mommy was always at her computer."  "Mom was always working."  or "Mom was a bitch."   I think they'll remember me for being spontaneous, and being a "yes-mom" . . . meaning I don't generally say, "no" as a knee-jerk reaction.  When I say 'no', there's a reason and I don't deviate.  My kids will remember me for being funny.  I play with them a lot.  We laugh all the time.  They will remember me reading books in Russian accents and filling in lines in British accents, my best Valley-girl voice or making up words to songs in the kitchen.  (My most recent is to a Pink song that makes even me die laughing!"  

I'm nearly sure my kids will remember me taking them outside and letting them get dirty, climb rocks, scramble up things, fall, get skinned and learn to heal.  I hope my kids will remember me for being creative and playing games with them.  Making up games is one of my greatest talents and we play all kinds of games, nearly every day.  This is the one that is most popular right now . . . . skeet shooting with Nerf vortex guns.  My job is to be the sling shot shooter of a wad of paper, on command of the shooter, who yells "pull".  On my fire, they try to ping the paper wad with a vortex bullet.  The ones not shooting fetch the bullets off of the hill.  It's so stinkin' fun and we have played it until my arms ache from shooting skeet paper balls.   I don't love this picture of me, but I bet it's one that the kids will come to treasure . . . . 

I do LOVE the picture of Mimi, in her mismatched clothes, ragged I've-been-playing-all-day tangled locks and her mean-as-stink face . . . . Love it! 


Dad's Tree . . .

There was a time when I thought it wasn't going to make it.  Thank Heavens, I didn't kill my dad's spirit tree.   I know, that might be an exaggeration or a little harsh, but it's really how I feel. Thank heavens it's still alive !!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Invisible Moms . . . Great Cathedrals


A forwarded email worth sharing . . . . 

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??  Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’ Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature - but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.
Thank you to all the Moms who are looking down and smiling at the cathedrals they helped to build.

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know.  The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.
To all the wonderful mothers out there!! God bless and keep you.
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." -Helen Keller