Boys and Their Toys

Jan borrowed the neighbor’s trencher on Saturday.

There’s nothing like a new toy to brighten up a weekend and get teenage boys excited, especially one that has an engine and digs cool holes!

My boys were grinning from ear to ear in anticipation as they unloaded the trencher from the trailer and studied it carefully.

Imagine the excitement the first time the engine turned over and started!

IMG_2968They were having such a great time digging the trenches for the wiring in the two outbuildings that I was afraid they might get carried away and I would have trenches all over the yard.

Not to worry.

It seems that every trench they dug had to be filled in by hand.

As in manual labor.

Party over.

Time to find a tractor or a riding mower….

Gob Smacked

They totally did it this time.

They pulled off the ultimate surprise.

It was a normal Tuesday evening. We had a normal evening meal – just Jan, Buddy, Angel Girl and I . Dishes were done. I was settled on the couch reading when Buddy brought Jan in, followed by Angel Girl.

“We have a surprise for your anniversary,” they said as Jan settled in beside me.  “Wait right here while we go get it.”

(A surprise? But our anniversary was a few weeks ago. I told the kids not to get us anything!)

A few minutes later Dagmar walked in. (What? Girl you have class first thing tomorrow morning!)

Followed by Pedro. (Wait a minute? Don’t you work tomorrow at 7 am?)

Followed by Matt. (MATT!!! You’re supposed to be in Colorado? How did you get here?!!)

IMG_2879

All of our children were home at the same time!

On a random Tuesday night.

How did this happen?

It was a surprise months in the making.

Matt drove 10 hours from Colorado, met his siblings in Des Moines and they drove home together, coordinating with Angel Girl and Buddy as they drove.

We were gob smacked.

Totally surprised.

Shocked.

IMG_2882Dagmar had to leave very early the next morning to get to class on time, but Pedro had a the next day off and Matt could stay for a few days.

It was so sweet.

So surreal.

From a quiet night on the couch reading to a room full of those I love most.

I kept asking Matt if he was real.

I almost wondered if I was dreaming.

IMG_3444But the laughter was real.

The smiles. The silliness. The teasing.

The ice cream and apple crisp around the table. (Buddy knew it was Matt’s favorite and made it for him that afternoon!)

We all stayed up way too late. Nobody wanted to go to bed. Nobody wanted it to end.

It was the ultimate surprise.

The prefect gift.

This mama’s heart couldn’t ask for anything more.

Off to Work She Goes

Look who got a job!IMG_0807

Yup. My Angel Girl.

You’ll never guess where!

Give up?

A local preschool and daycare.

How perfect is that?!

Seriously – this girl is a kid magnet. Every Sunday you see her with a baby in her arms and one or two attached to her legs. They love her.

And she loves them.

After her first two days of work she came home and said, “Wow, I can’t believe they actually pay me to do this!”

🙂

And with the job comes the first pay check.

Last week Daddy took her to the bank to set up her grown-up account – complete with debit card.

This week he taught her how to fill the SUV with gas and how to drive in winter weather.

She looks so grown up as she leaves every afternoon.

<sniff>

My baby girl is growing up fast.

 

We All Have Our Gifts

One of the things I love about my big old farm house is the large attic.

Since we don’t have many closets, we use the attic for storage of off-season clothes, Christmas decorations, toys, sleeping bags and other very important things that the children cannot yet part with.

To access this space we have a pull down ladder.

I do not like this ladder. I do not like any ladders. I do not like heights.

But I had come to peace with it’s existence and could actually use it without a complete  panic.

But then it broke.

Just like that.

At least it broke in the up position.

Jan removed it – leaving a hole in the ceiling in the hallway – and brought in a step ladder to provide access to the more nimble among us. Since using the step ladder involved climbing to the top and using your upper body strength to hoist yourself through the hole in the ceiling into the attic – it is valid to conclude that I have not seen the contents of the attic for some time.

Well – except for the one time that Jan brought in a real ladder and held it for me while patiently coaching up me up and then back down. All that just so that I could find the two missing blue flannel pillowcases.

He’s wonderful like that.

Otherwise I managed by bribing one of the children to go up the step ladder and then shouted directions from below.

“The blue pillow cases are there somewhere – keep looking!”

But that all ended last night.

The needed parts had arrived, the pull down ladder was fixed, and it was ready to be installed.

The installation itself proved to be a problem – since both of our big boys have left home to seek their fame and fortune in the big wide world.

And Dagmar was on call at the hospital.

Jan was left with Angel Girl, Buddy and I to assist him – and one of us was deathly afraid of heights.

And claustrophobic.

But my amazing husband figured out an simple solution involving a step ladder, four braces,  2 cordless drills, Buddy, Angel Girl and himself.

Did you notice that I was left out of this installation?

I decided my job would be to call 911 in case of emergency (which would prove interesting since Dagmar would be the one to come rescue us) and got my cell phone to be prepared.

And because the phone was in my hands – I started texting Dagmar a play by play of the action so she wouldn’t be surprised when the 911 call came through.

“So Dad, Buddy and Angel Girl are attempting to put in the attic stairs. Hopefully we won’t need to visit you.” 

Jan and Angel Girl climbed into the attic on the step ladder and pulled up the repaired pull down ladder.

Then they carefully lowered the pull down ladder until it rested on the braces and used the first cordless drill to attach the ladder.

Buddy’s job was to climb the step ladder on the other side, use the second cordless drill to carefully remove the four braces, and pull down the ladder to let Jan and Angel Girl out.

Great plan right?

All went well till Buddy climbed up the ladder to unscrew the braces. As he struggled to balance himself on the step ladder while holding a heavy cordless drill over his head I heard Jan say, “Be careful you don’t strip the screws or we’ll be stuck up here.”

What?

Stuck in the attic?

I send Dagmar a text:

“Your dad and sister are currently stuck in the attic but don’t worry buddy and I have everything under control.”

 Finally a job that I can handle – create drama.

We all have our gifts. 😉

 

Girl Power

Our van is broke.

Since it won’t start and it’s stuck in our driveway, Jan had to trailer it in to town.

(May I stop here and point out the fact that this is the third time in 18 months that we have had to tow this particular vehicle? Once on the way home from camping after rodents gnawed away some important wiring, once from Des Moines when the brakes locked up and now because it won’t start.

You may find this bit of history fascinating – but my husband did not.)

Towing the van into town meant he needed to borrow a trailer as the van is exactly 4.187643923 inches too big for ours.

So he borrowed Dagmar’s truck and the neighbor’s trailer.

IMG_20140922_133845_879This is when things got interesting.

The first time we towed this van we rented a car dolly.

The second time we towed this van we rented a trailer from U-haul that has a fancy come-along thing to pull the vehicle up on the trailer.

This time we have the neighbor’s flat bed trailer with no fancy come along thing.

Remember that the van won’t start.

He needed a plan.

He choose gravity.

So he and Buddy used the tractor to pull the van to the top of a small rise in the yard. Then he backed the trailer up to the rise, and they pushed the van down the slight incline to the trailer.

The plan worked well – at first. The van moved beautifully down the slight incline – but when it reached the trailer, there was a slight uphill to get it on the ramps.

And the van wouldn’t budge.

After several tries, they called for reinforcements.

And since both of our strong, handsome older boys are gone – there was only the two girls and me.

Imagine his reaction when two of the three of us showed up in flannel jammie pants wearing cowboy boots and flip flops!

shoesThey shall remain nameless – but I can assure you that I wasn’t one of them.

But sometimes you have to to work with what you’ve got and we were drafted anyway. At least two of the three of us lift weights occasionally.  (Once again – I can assure you that I am not one of them!)

It took several tries but believe it or not – we did it.

We got that van loaded up and ready to go into town.

No fancy come along thing.

Just brute strength. 🙂

Flip flops, cowboy boots, jammie pants and all.

Girl power.