Wednesday, November 26, 2014


We had a couple of trees growing over the roof of our house. In fact, both were draped in a nerve-wracking manner over the master bedroom. And, since they are calling for a colder-than-user winter and there's always a chance of freezing rain, (and because one of the trees had a big hollow area at the base) we decided this would be the optimum time to look into getting those trees taken out or trimmed back. Fortunately, we also got a great referral who gave us a very reasonable quote for taking the two offending trees out, as well as cleaning up the rest of the trees in the yard. They actually did a better job than I expected on trimming the trees, and they did a fabulous job overall. I tried to get a few pictures of the process, but I didn't think to take any "before" pictures.

This is the big tree in the backyard we wanted taken out. (And yes, I know I have an problem with taking tilted pictures. I kind of like it, but not so much here.)

This is the front cluster of trees getting trimmed.
 The tree on the left (you can barely see the trunk) is the one that is came out of the front. You can't see it, but there's a man strapped to it that is cutting off branches.

A picture from further away of the front.

The cool wood-chipper doo-hickey-thingama-bobber.

A better picture of the tree in back. The lowest of the branches have already been cleared here.

And this is the same tree, more branches gone.

This is the crazy fool expert tree guy who trimmed the front trees back. He's hanging in a harness or something from the trees. At least he's strapped on tight.

And the back tree came down! (Olivia swears she heard someone yell "Timber!" I wouldn't be surprised.)

I was really impressed with what a good job this crew did in general safety procedures. Not just to protect themselves, but to protect my house. You can see the rope dangling there that they would tie to big branches they were going to cut off, thus making sure nothing crashed down on anyone (or anything) unexpectedly.

And this my friends, is what the bottom of the tree in back looked like. I am so glad it isn't hanging over my bedroom ceiling any more! And the nice gents also cut the trunk down so we can use it for firewood. Guess we need to get an ax and a wedge to split it with, now.

The After Pictures

This tree isn't in any of the other photos, but trust me when I say that it had the most low-hanging branches of them all. Now it's off the fence and out of my hair - literally!

The tree in the back is gone, and the tree by the fence (that was hidden by the tree) is nicely groomed. We have a whole usable section of yard now that we didn't before. AND sunlight coming through our living room windows. Woot, woot!

And last, but not least, the trees in front. The one in back is gone, and the three in front are looking great! 

We didn't realize how gloomy our house looked indoors without direct sunlight, but now that we have it, it makes me smile. I'm sure there's a good gospel analogy in there somewhere, but honestly it's late and I'm tired. You'll have to do your own deep thinking on that one.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Climber

Ever since Maddox was a baby I have struggled to keep up with him. He was walking at 10 months, climbing a couple months later. At two years old he'd take off running down the middle of the street every time we went to go get in the van and leave. He thought it was funny that we'd all chase him and holler. He was my first child for which the "monkey leash" was an absolute necessity every where we went!

Well, now he's four. And the closest park to our home also has a huge rope-web thingie that the kids love to climb. And while I love for them to climb it, Maddox has a limit. He is not allowed to go any higher than this:

He's the little orange spot about 2/3 of the way to the top. He love to hang out up there - see?

Unfortunately, he's always liked to see how far he can push the rules. I turned my head for a minute to take care of another kid, and this is what he did:

I (of course) instructed him to come down immediately while snapping his picture.

And off he went to Time out. He wasn't very happy about it.

Not one single bit.

Fortunately, it was just one incident in what was otherwise a beautiful autumn morning at the park with the bonus kids, Terri, and Eva.

And yes, Maddox got himself dressed that morning. I have since come to learn that he's dressed as No Noggin from the Curious George "Boofest" episode.  That translates into a button up shirt, tie, and a hat. I did convince him to trade in the cowboy boots for sneakers before coming to the park, though.

And THIS pretty girl loves to get her picture taken but won't stand still. She just bounces around with excitement while saying, "Cheese!"

Eva is our swing expert. She can go really high!

It was such a beautiful morning!

We even ran into some other friends while we were there. Of course, they were awesome and biked over...

It looked like Eva was trying to hang like a monkey from the ropes, but she's getting too tall for that - she reaches the ground!

This is how the other kids like to swing. It kind of stresses me out when they get going. I'm just sure someone is going to flip out of the seat onto their head. So far they haven't been able to build up too much speed on their own. But I'm watching them closely.

This little man takes the best pictures. And yes, his eyes are that stunning in person, too. I have had random people stop me while we out running errands and comment on how good looking this kid's eyes are. No joke. And I can't even claim credit for contributing DNA since he isn't mine!

 And here's another sweet smile that I love to see!

And, for a few bonus pictures, this is what Maddox REALLY looked like when he got himself dressed (before I intervened to get things somewhat straightened out / buttoned up):

Post-Halloween Festivities

The week of Halloween, our family got hit by a nasty stomach bug. First Olivia fell to its clutches Tuesday evening, and then I succumbed a mere 24 hours later. Since no one was sick Thursday night we were hoping it was over, but alas! It was not to be. Kelsey woke up sick on Friday (Halloween), and stayed sick all day long. She felt terrible, and was so sad that she couldn't go trick or treating with her brothers! She asked if she could pass out candy ("Would you like some germs with that treat?") but we told her no to that, as well.

In an attempt to help make it up to her, Ben and I told her she could have a movie night the following week and dress up in costume with a few of her friends. We had the girls decorate brown paper bags and do a little "trick or treat" to our house. Then I made them gather for a group picture...

"Pretty face"

"Silly face" 

"Surprised face"

"Freaky face"

And a few good sports let me take their pictures as a bonus!

"Trick or treat!!"