Afternoon Narration

It’s 4:35pm. Chrissy leaves to be early for work. She says good-bye to us for the night and kisses her boys goodbye. Eliza is already come, done her homework, and gone. She’s old enough to go to her friends house without being escorted. Every chance she gets, she takes. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve gotten considerably less cooler, or if I just haven’t been putting the effort into having a better relationship with her. Maybe the relationship is fine; it’s just one of those stages where you wonder. In any case there’s no time to think about it.

Daniel is hammering a nail into a piece of wood nearby. The more he pounds, the more it bends. The nail and hammer are both small, but his 3 year old frame isn’t quite ready for this test of coordination. Rainey is wandering around ‘helping’ as well. He’s actually pretty good when he’s around, but the moment he’s not: you have to worry. While contemplating my relationship with my daughter, saying goodbye to Chrissy, and wondering about Rainey I’m constructing a bird feeder out of wood lying around the house.
It’s not going so well.

Chrissy can’t quite see the finished product in her mind, and I’m too embarrassed to share the details. I’m wondering if it’s the fact that I’m totally winging it. I’m wondering if working with tools is a genetic thing and somehow I misplaced my skills. After all we grew up with three boys at home–there was a lot of testosterone. Growing up I thought the A-Team was the way life really worked in the real world. Now I wonder why you would ever throw down your gun so you could punch someone instead. I wonder with as many montages on building a ‘tank’ that I saw I didn’t get more out of it. Maybe a birdhouse isn’t a ‘tank.’

Maybe I’m just not good as solving problems that involve wood and a barely used table saw. I considered myself technically smart until this morning when I realized that I wasn’t good at manually gunnery and failed. One more thing to think about. Now I’ve got to re-study and spend Saturday morning in uniform taking the test over again. What were those mistakes again? I wasn’t allowed to take notes during the test review this afternoon.

What’s Rainey getting into in the van?

Oh, he’s got those hot-sauce covered pistachio nuts. How the heck can my kids eat those things and like them? What’s this cut supposed to be? I hope this thing doesn’t look too ugly when it’s finished. I’m putting effort into it, but it all goes down the drain if Chrissy doesn’t like the way it looks. She’ll never let me put it up in the yard.

Done with the bird feeder.

Where’s Rainey? He’s moved from the nuts to a bag of honey roasted peanuts he found in the door. Hey, those were in Chrissy’s door, and I was really hungry the other day when I was driving. How come I didn’t get to snack on those on the way home?
It looks like it might rain. The garage is still covered in stuff from the move. My workshop is outdoors and needs to get packed inside.

Daniel’s tired. It’s that time of the afternoon. Tired or not he’s the only consultant I’ve got on where to put this thing up. First we talk about hanging it. He wants to put it where you can’t see it unless your outside. I want to be able to stay inside and watch the birds eat. Hanging it means that you end up with weeds in the grass near the house. That’s the only good grass we’ve got in spots. Wait a second! We got a picket and I can put it on that. Daniel doesn’t like the idea. He let’s me know. I wander around the yard holding a picket and a hammer. Rainey’s out of sight and Daniel is protesting in pure 3-year-old fashion. I’m wondering where I want the weeds to grow.
Do I really want one more thing in the yard I have to mow around?

Bird seed is nothing more than weed/wildflower seed mixed together no matter where I put it I’ll end up with weeds. Maybe here near this pipe sticking out of the yard. Yeah, that might be good ’cause then I’ll only have one thing to work around. Wait, that pipe marks a sprinkler for the septic. How far down were the piped dug again? Do I really want to be watering weeds?

“Daniel, we’re done.” Best to wait and ask Chrissy. Let’s go in and eat. Bad idea. Eliza showed up with her friends. They’re leaving someplace and Daniel wants to go. He runs into to get his shoes. The leave while he’s inside. I’m the only adult left and so it’s my fault. Where’d Rainey go again? He’s crying outside ’cause I left him. It’s a good thing it doesn’t take too hands for any one kid. I can carry Daniel upside down with one hand and Rainey upside down in the other. Grab tight just above the ankles. Daniel’s pants are sliding off–gotta hurry. Dropped them both on the couch.

Two growly children. Ok, outdated church video said distract not discipline. Today I’m doing good. I thought of a distraction on my way home. Paper bag costumes are not a good enough distraction–but since they were so keen on the costumes in Wal-mart (curses and blessings be upon it) the idea seemed to have some merit. Discipline’s still not an option–what’s next?

LIFE: This is the egg-beater on “low.” Eliza comes home and it’s time to clean house and the setting gets changed to “high.” Sure Chrissy does it all day. Lots of moms do it all day, but when it’s my turn it’s not just “not mom’s,” it’s mine. It’s me on the wrong end of the three-to-one ratio. I’ve never been able to compete in an argument about how it’s ‘tougher’ for dads. Most times I can’t finish a significant sentence. The reply is generally: “No evidence will be considered in the case of mom’s vs. dad’s watching kids. We’d appreciate if you didn’t try to bring this up at all.” They should have a warning on conversations like that: “Please deposit 5 happy relationship points for every 30 seconds you try to have your opinion on this subject heard.”

It’s now 9:00pm. Rainey’s lying next to me. He’s being quiet so I don’t mind. Chrissy told me this afternoon that he’s done with his bottle. I discovered the last two hours before bed that he’s also managed to loose both of his pacifiers. She’s not answering my text messages. I’m really hoping she’s got a spare stashed away somewhere. She was supposed to be home a half hour ago.

This kids going to be unruly tomorrow. He pooped in the toilet tonight before bath time. He pooped in the bathtub tonight during bath time as well. If Chrissy reads this before looking at the birdhouse I’ll get to put it up out of sympathy instead of success. This spring I want to build a chicken coop for my birthday. The idea has shifted from fun present, to an ominous project.
When it’s all done I wouldn’t trade today for anything. Some stupid inkling of faith tells me I’m going to miss days like this one. I still need to put my mind at ease–there’s poop residue in the bathtub I need to take care of still. Although the memories of today will be nice in the future, the memories of yesterday ring a bit sweeter for now. I wonder what Matt Lammie is doing?

I miss hiking in Utah.

Photos to Share

Well, the weekend’s not quite over yet and we’ve got some great photos to share. Earlier in the week Jamie McDonald, the builder for our development here, lived up to a promise he made a few months ago. When he originally did the landscaping it was back in April time frame. After he grated the yard it had perfect drainage. Then the typical April and May showers arrived–including some t-storms that drop an inch or more in a half an hour–there was a lot of damage due to erosion. He knew we had a couple of ‘puddle spots’ and volunteered to fix them. I asked him to wait until I could get enough grass seed.

Let me tell you about the COOP in Elgin. I talked with Chrissy about how much money we could spend on grass seed. She told me $50. I walked in and talked to the gentleman behind the counter and said: “My wife has given me $50 to buy grass seed.”

He smiles. Then he does some math on an old calculator and says: “That’s about 15lbs.”

We go to the section of the store with the grass seed. He picks up a bag with some seed in it, and puts in on the scale. It weighs in at 18lbs. He goes to grab a scoop and takes out one scoop. I tell him the scale reads 16lbs. He shrugs his shoulders and then puts the scoop back in. Takes the entire bag back to the register and rings me up for $50. I then ask him how much land this will cover and he explains that it’s 10lbs for 1 acre.

I’m only re-seeding about half an acre and I manage to get more seed than I paid for and more seed than I need. What a deal!

So when Jamie was here we put Daniel in the tractor and had him help drive it. Jamie took a few turns with Daniel at the wheel and then let Eliza had a turn. Both the kids, and our builder were good sports and now the dirt is a lot closer to being ready to plant! Yahoo!

On Friday we got to go see the parade in Fletcher OK. It consisted of tractors, the entire school system from grades 3+ and some other local interests. One of my favorite is the BEE truck. A while back I ran into a store that sold local honey–great stuff. There was a newspaper clipping showing how their truck was part of a tv show. I guess there’s a show on CMT called “Trick My Truck” and at some point the business was selected to have their truck revamped by the show. The painting detail looks incredible and so I had Chrissy take a couple of pictures while I was holding the kids.

In other news, dad told me about how he got a Mac. It looks like the one he got was one of the newer groovy really really really cool ones. Well, we got a MAC as well. It’s not as nice as dad’s but hey, you pay for the logo right? This thing even has a 3.5 inch floppy drive and an RJ10 network card. It’s going to take some gadget hunting to get the thing on the internet–I don’t even think they made a browser for this machine! It’s a fun project to have on the side.

Yesterday we took Leslie up to Mt Scott and the Holy City near here. We all had fun and snapped photos of things while we were up there. It was a good time. All of the photos so far are part of the web album slideshow at the end of this post.

Last night it rained. Our water bill from last month showed up and told us we needed to water the yard less than what we were doing. I bought large blue rain barrels to catch the water off the roof and we had just the right amount of rain last night. No erosion–but all the soil is throughly moist so I can plant tomorrow morning. I love having a yard. It’s neat! It’s work, but I’ve got to learn to take care of it. It’s one of the reasons why Chrissy’s taking a job. I figure if we take care of what we’ve been entrusted with, God will help take care of us. So far I’d say my theory is right–you be the judge.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Improvised Living

In any army school you live in the barracks. Most folks don’t understand what a barracks room looks like. The quality of some barracks compared to others varies quite differently as well. To put it simply it’s somewhere between a prison cell, a motel room, and a dorm room. Someone smarter than I am can make the graph of those things. I just know that when I walk into the door I see a mix of all three.

My roommate for this stage of adventure is a young man named David Sherman, who graduated from Clemson. He’s low maintenance, and a good guy. There’s just two of us in the room and we both feel pretty lucky. Most folks have 3-4 people in their rooms.

This week we were kept busy inprocessing for the school. Somehow the Army didn’t quite keep my digital dental records and so I had to start from scratch. That was an annoying three hours waiting in line to get my teeth x-rayed. I did manage to get it done though and so I wont have to worry about it again.

It’s not very surprising to realize that after nearly two years of being around my family full time–I miss them. So I decided to adopt some of my fellow students and make us a family. I started with Jacob Snyder. When we noticed that we both had the same name we developed a story to go along with it. Mom and dad had trouble having kids, so they adopted me. Then you showed up and they felt like they had gotten things right and named you Jacob. Jacob Snyder is the “good son” while I got treated as the red-headed step child.

Having a brother is great… but it still didn’t feel like a family. So we needed to adopt a sister that would help us complete the scheme of things. So we adopted Katie Richesin. She was the quietest one in the squad. So the story goes: Katie’s our sister and she’s quite because of how domaneering we are and how mean we were to her growing up. Ironically, as soon as she accepted the fact that she was adopted into a family she wasn’t quiet any more. In fact she’s got quite a complimentary personality. She’s the perfect addition to this made up family–and we’re glad to have her.

Jacob Snyder is from Missouri–the only state where it was legal to kill Mormons until the 1970’s. He drives a blue Toyota truck, is a good speaker, listener, and friend. Katie graduated from the Citadel and enjoyed some time in Africa doing humanitarian work and research for a project. There’s a lot to her that’s underneath the surface and we keep telling her that she’s gotta find the guy that loves her for all that’s there. We also been having a bit of fun practicing saying “Rukungiri.” The name of the town where she spent time in Africa.

Well “the family” needed a name. So we started shopping around and the best one we could find was Chrissy’s maiden name: Hovan. There’s no one else here at school with it, it’s easy to say, spell, and sounds cool.

The family decided that we were going hiking this weekend and took along a few other folks. Five of us all together hiked what they call “mountains” here and had a blast. We saw a tarantula, a cave, adventure, and fish. At the top of a rock there was a seasonal puddle with some very small fish in it. I’ve emailed a professor at USU to see if anyone knows the name of the creatures… I thought they were cool!

We found a cave full of daddy long leg spiders — there were so many of them on the ceiling that their legs looked like fur. It was a bit creepy — but still really cool.

Being away from the kids gives me a chance to go and have adventures. It’s important to keep busy while away. I’ve put the highlights together for this blog but there was a lot more to this week than just making a family and hiking.

I’m glad to be here with these folks, doing the things we’re doing. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I’ll have the photo of the three of us up later.