Today was absolutely perfect weather - sunny and in the high 70's and just wonderful. The kids all spent hours playing outside. They played baseball and explored the "forest" and generally enjoyed being outside.
I took advantage of the lovely weather and the fact that it was a Saturday by forcing everyone to do yard work. Our backyard has been an absolute disaster all winter, and the front yard has slowly become one as well, because our neighbors seem to believe that our garden is a perfect spot for throwing trash. Add to all of the trash and random stuff lying around the many, many leaves and sticks that were never raked up, and you have a giant mess.
I had the kids pick up garbage and wash the tables and chairs, and i raked a million, million leaves, and Juanito woke up when we were halfway finished, so then he helped as well, and we eventually got rid of a ridiculously huge amount of yard waste.
When Juanito came out, one of the first things he did was to start a fire in the grill, wherein to burn some of the random wood he's had lying around. And lo, the kids were all thrilled and would have stood around gazing at the fire for the rest of the day, but i am a mean meanie and made everyone keep working. At one point, Juanito, Houston, and i were in the front yard, and Katrina and Zane were carrying the table and chairs back to the backyard, and Zane suddenly called (in a not-panicked voice), "Um, guys! You should come back here! There's something you need to see!" I...kind of ignored him a little bit, because that's the same thing he says for things like woodpeckers and squirrels and cute little birds drinking from buckets. So i ignored him...until he added, "The fire! Is burning! On the ground!" At which point we all kind of leaped to attention and rushed to check it out. Sure enough, some of the wood from the fire had fallen out of the grill onto a pile of wood on the ground, and it was all on fire. I was all, "UM! Fire! Where it's not contained! Stop it from burning down our house!!!" because i am totally calm in emergencies. Juanito, on the other hand, simply walked over and shrugged and started putting it all back in. Katrina grabbed a bucket of water and stood by, eagerly hoping that she'd get to help put the fire out. (Juanito let her put out the fire in one little pile, but it wasn't actually necessary.)
Anyhow. The (tiny) fire was put out. The leaves are gone. Our yard looks so much better! The garden looks like a garden again! Yay!
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My friend Karen D. was at a conference in Grand Rapids on Thursday and Friday, so we got to see her! She and i went out for dinner on Thursday night, for an early birthday celebration. It was so great to get to see her just by myself, without the distraction of kids and dog and food preparation and everything that would have gone into having her here that night. We had delicious food and awesome conversation.
And i got presents! Fun ones! Karen got me a Zoku popsicle maker, which i'd never even heard of before, but you basically stick the thingy in the freezer until you want to make popsicles, and then when you're ready you just take it out and make them in about 10 minutes. We tried it out on Friday night, and it works really well. My kids thought it was the greatest thing ever, and if it were up to them, we'd have popsicles constantly. Sadly, they have to wait at least 24 between times.
Friday, Karen came over for pizza and games. And popsicles. The kids were thrilled and all wanted her attention. They might be older, but they still have that "Look at me! Look at me!" mentality in a more grown up kind of way. Now, instead of "Look at the funny face i can make!" it's "Watch me play the flute!" and "Look at this funny video!" and "Let's do a face swap!" So it was fairly chaotic, but lots and lots of fun. We played Catch Phrase and ate delicious pizza and just had a really good time.
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For a really long time, i rolled my eyes at Snapchat. "Why would you want to take pictures that would only exist for a few seconds?" i asked. And then i was persuaded that maybe it would be fun, so i started using it, and...it IS fun! I use it mostly for two purposes: To say hi to friends and give them little snapshots of what i'm doing randomly, and to take ridiculously hilarious pictures and make each other laugh.
Recently, Snapchat added this feature where you can use filters to make your face look weird in various ways or even to face swap. It's quite amusing for adults, but it's like crack for kids. Hence, there have been many, many hilarious snapchat pictures sent back and forth between me, Juanito, Houston, Beth, and sometimes my mom and Keren. (I don't want to pester people too much....) Some of the filters make you look all beautiful. Most make you look crazy. For one day, there was a filter that turned your eyes into two more mouths. That might have been the craziest, most disturbing filter so far. The face swap pictures always look quite creepy, but they're brought to a whole new level of creepy when it sees something else as a face. Houston, in particular, has Snapchat mistake his nose for a face often, with hilarious and sometimes horrifying results.
Allow me to share some of the many: