Sitting outside our motel door, looking out over the Gulf somewhere East of Biloxi, having our newly-traditional family vacation at the beach. I want to post lovely pictures of the kids walking the beach in the late evening light, but to keep this diary chronological I have to catch us up on the last couple weeks.
Graham, Caspian's sometimes-bet-friend, turned four, and had a super hero themed birthday party.
Later that afternoon, we hosted another house concert in my office, this time with Mike June...
and Jon Dee Graham. MJ is from Jersey and has a springsteen sound, JDG is from Texas, has been inducted into the Austin music hall of fame three times, deservedly.
After the Crappie Fest Cliff and I were inspired to try our hand at fishing again. Cliff took me out to a secret spot, and I caught three small bass, no crappie.
Cliff seemed to have traded luck with me, and went the whole morning without a bite. Cliff is one of my favorite people. spending a morning in the lovely MS backwoods chattering about the world and not thinking about renovations or the daily usual was a much needed treat.
Cleaning fish, and getting six very small fillets for dinner.
The house. As mentioned earlier, this side of the house was largely destroyed by termites at some point in the last forty years. I replaced all the trouble spots with new tongue and groove boards, and sheathed it in house-wrap.
Then, the cedar siding could continue.
We like how this is turning out.
Annaliese graduated from the pre-k program she's been attending at the local Baptist church. It's been a great social time for her, spending each morning with all her friends, but the academic side has been lax. She was so far ahead when she started the program she didn't encounter anything new outside of bible verses and stories. No harm or foul, her schooltime learning is highly supplemented at home, but we're thinking Caspian will stay at his learning center for his last year before starting kindergarten.
Annaliese with her best friend Chloe.
Their graduation ceremony was a long program put on by the kids, where they each stepped forward to a mic and recited a factoid. Annaliese's was about the number of books in the bible, (66), with 39 in the old testament and 27 in the new. She was nervous through the whole presentation, (notice the arms folded across her chest, they stayed that way the whole time,) and was the last to step up to the mic, where she nailed it.
Caspian was not in an audience mood, and we barely contained him in the pew.
Alexe put fresh roses in Annaliese's hair and in her dress. They were both very proud of how pretty the outfit for the night turned out.
So this is our little girl, five years old, and headed to kindergarden in the fall.
There isn;t going to be time to put up the permanent fencing this summer, and the pigs 1) needed a new spot to roam after turning their entire pen into a mud bog, and 2) won't be with us much longer, so their last few weeks deserve to be nice. After reading piles of advice, I went with some mobile electric poultry fencing, which is easy to handle, comes with built in fence posts, and when attached to a fence charge sized for 20 miles of fencing, does a great job at keeping the pigs in. The first day there were half a dozen squeals as they learned the fence, but since then, it's been great. The fence is 160 ft long, and a paddock created by that length is perfect for about a week, at which time the earth is completely churned, and with ten minutes of time, I can move it over to the next spot.
Alexe's grandfather passed a couple weeks ago, and Alexe flew to Virginia for the funeral. She took Caspian, both because he is his great grandfather's namesake, (middle name Pierce, John Pierce's only male descendent,) and because it was Caspian's turn for a solo plane trip with Alexe.
That left me with my little girl for a Friday to Sunday burst of home renovations / father/daughter adventuring.
I made a list, which did wonders for clearing my head and making thee house feel, for the first time in a while, like it's close to being done, and we started first thing Friday morning, after Alexe and Caspian left for the airport.
Urethane for the upstairs window sills and the bathroom sink counter. The sills are the same barn oak used for the kitchen window sills, and the bathroom sink counter is 2 inch thick heart pine, also from an old barn.
We then stripped the wallpaper from the last plaster wall in the sun room. There's an aggravating order of operations here. The floors in the upstairs and the living rooms need to be refinished, and that means we need a place to move all the furniture into. It also means all the painting needs to be done, to avoid overspray or drips form getting on the refinished floors. Which means the sun room has to be done first.
Then of course you can't stay in a house when half of the floors are wet with noxious urethane, and as luck would have it, a week from this picture we would be heading to the beach for the vacation we're on right now. So the timeline meant the sun room needed to be finished, the upstairs walls needed to be final-skim coated and painted, up and downstairs floors sanded, upstairs floors stained, and both floors urethane-ed twice, timed perfectly with our departure time on Saturday afternoon after Alexe's shift.
There were several late nights, and packing and getting two coats of urethane down on a saturday morning with two kids jumping off the walls and Alexe working the cooking shift wasn't then best, but deadlines were hit, and when we get home we will have dry floors, and be able to start moving in, officially.
That's getting ahead of ourselves.
At this point, Annaliese was being very helpful, insisting on participating in everything I did.
However, we had fun plans too, and we jetted to Oxford for a movie. IronMan 3. Fun, worth the $14 for a matinee, and Annaliese had a blast with her own popcorn bin, and her second ever movie theater experience. (The first one was as a family in Vermont when we took the kids to see Brave last summer. Oddly, they were terrible in that one, scared out of their wits, but Annaliese loved Iron Man, and chattered about the fire-breathing monsters without a hint of fear.)
We stopped at Deedee's local junk shop on the way home, and the grumpy little girl didn't get to buy anything.
Dinner, relatively healthy.
And an evening trip to the track for running...
She did almost half a mile of short sprints to show me how fast she is and challenge me to see if I could beat her.
And flower crown making.
It was a great Friday. When we got home, past her bedtime, this little one called a family meeting on the couch, and we methodically went through all her pictures from her year in the pre-k program. Eventually she was bathed, jammied, and made it into bed.
The rest of the weekend involved leisurely breakfasts, projects balanced with play time, (measure-cut-instal a piece of trim, pillow fight, measure-cut-install, board game, etc.) and a pond project that I'll cover in a dedicated post.
Oh, and lots of snack breaks.
Oh, and another birthday party. This was Liam turning six, his mother getting her PhD, and her father getting a book deal party. Annaliese busted the pinata with two left handed swings of the bat.
This is a picture a friend of ours took during soccer season, and I love it.
Annaliese liked helping on alost all the projects, painting most of all, cleaning up the least.
She deigned to sit on the tractor while I cleaned out the workshop of scrap wood for the burn pile...
And while I picked up the yard and porches she made sculptures with clay from the pond excavation. This is a snow man.
And with lots of flower and salt, and all the pepper, she made me this lovely meal.
As a last hurrah, with the sun room trimmed and painted, (two coats of primer and two coats of self priming paint, old wood love to bleed through latex,) we cleaned and raked to make the finished sides of the house look good for Alexe, who came home late on Mother's day with Caspian.
That doesn't catch us up, there's still the busy week before we left for vacation, but phew, I'm going back to vacationing now.