It's been a beautiful morning of run-around-tickle-game, breakfast and coloring on the porch, and lounging in the new hammock, an early father's day present from Alexe. This Mississippi summer morning is crisp, with a cool breeze, the sounds of birds chirping, and a view of a thousand shades of green and six species of domestic animals from where we're sitting.
So why not stare into a glowing box?
This was a Saturday morning. Looks like a nice one.
The Pine Valley Schoolhouse had the first of what should become an annual art festival. It was organized by JF, my electrician/plumber/carpenter/artist who's been with me on the buildings project every day for six months.
Annaliese buying a bracelet from a very self confident sales girl. She pitched very hard as we walked by, and after finishing our circuit of the vendor's booths, Annaliese successfully wheedled a dollar out of me and went back.
This schoolhouse was restored about 10 years ago, and sits 8 miles outside of Water Valley, in the middle of Pine Valley. The rest of "the middle of Pine Valley" includes a small fire station and a tower with a tornado siren on top. Even so, in the middle of no where, with hundreds of people wandering through, our kids knew almost everyone, and wandered freely between the various events.
Hula hooping, for example.
Alexe came as a vendor, with her fruit cart. You have to see the size of this girl's smile as she sells apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes to understand how much she loves selling fruits and veggies to people.
Caspian making his first of many colorful shaving cream based tie-dye-ish pieces of art. My mason, and the record holder for largest watermelon in MS, and a Baptist preacher, is smiling in the background. He has been the most positive, pleasant, and productive person on the worksite, even through the months of having to thaw the water spigots with torches each morning in order to mix up his mortar.
One of the many fine bands playing on the stage inside the schoolhouse. This picture is a fraction of a second too late to catch Jared's wink. The banner behind the stage dates from the 50s, and lists many of the now gone businesses from Water Valley.
JD, sitting with his concrete sculpture, the Centaur.
JF, organizer of the event, getting a little caught up in his introduction of the next band. Among the many things John has been, he's also done his time as a Baptist preacher.
Riches from Alexe's garden.
I keep finding Priscilla on window sills.
Caspian's birthday party. Alexe loves birthday parties, and has made it her mission to put on great parties for the kids. She also decided she would bake their birthday cakes each year. I'm not sure where that impulse came from, she doesn't bake anything else, ever, but it's adorable, and sometimes delicious.
A proud, amped up mama bear.
The birthday boy, though we had this party the day before his real birthday. He was very clear on he schedule of pre-parties, real party, present openings, and the final breakfast in bed the subsequent Saturday that all added up to a week's worth of celebration.
That's a cherry cake with blueberry frosting, made to the five year old's specifications.
It was one of the delicious ones.
A low key barbecue, cake, presents, and a pool. What else could a 5 year old want?
At the country club. I still get a kick out of being country club members here, mixed in with my defensive need to explain that this country club is far from fancy, and the dues are very affordable.
2 hours before officially being five. (He was born at 8:30 in the morning.)
I came home from work to find this scene. The kids are finding summer vacation can be exhausting.
The big sister struggled with her brother's fifth birthday. One the one hand she loves him, on the other hand, she deserves presents.
I took her present shopping after work, because she wanted to buy her brother a birthday present. That was her story when we left the house. After 20 minutes in the store, and a dozen present ideas that would have resulted in Annaliese getting a present, she was in hysterics, and I took her home. She had angrily chosen the monkey's in a barrel for her brother, because they said they were for 3 year olds, and she thought he wouldn't like them and would take offense as a five year old.
Once again she underestimated her brother's sunny disposition. At one point in an effort to cheer Annaliese up he told her that she could pick any one of his birthday presents to have, except for his remote control car.
Two things. First, Caspian is a wonderful little man, and at five, we could not be more proud of him. He's smart and handsome and kind, always happy to help, and the family's primary caretaker of everyone else. Watching him explore the farm, climb trees, gather wildlife, build forts, make dams, visit the animals, collect just about anything; it may be my greatest joy in having this place.
Second, Annaliese. She is a lovely creature, sharp as a tack, and fraught with strong emotions. It can be easy to see her frequent abuse of her little brother and her mouthy outbursts and worry about her, but it's an incomplete picture. Earlier today, while cleaning up the kitchen, I found this:
I spent a late night putting the yard of the Blue House in order. After almost three hours of mowing and weed whacking, I looked up to see my family walking through the evening dew and lightning bugs to say hi.
This little man frequently runs off into the dark, and always comes back with a lighting bug in his hand.
Enjoying birthday presents on a hot afternoon.
I received a call at work from Caspian, asking me to come to the store for...I couldn't understand the last part, but it was so cute I hopped in the truck and went over. He and his sister explained they had put together a show upstairs, and insisted Alexe and I come up and watch. What followed was adorable. My office above the store had been set up for a show, they had decorated the chairs, and organized hats for all the audience members. From the set up you could tell they had plans of some sort, but they were both hit with a bout of stage fright, and their show ended up being them sitting in chairs facing us, trying to get the other one to start the show and giggling their butts off.
It was a nice pick-me-up in the middle of a long day and week.
One of Alexe's charms. She fills the house with vases of flowers, some home grown, many "found" around town.