Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall in the South

When we arrived in Texas in the summer, I thought it would never cool down. I actually remember thinking, 'What a pity that Bud and Ashley have such a beautiful backyard, because the weather never allows us to enjoy it.'

And then, at long last, came October. Suddenly the humidity disappeared from the air, leaving the mornings and evenings definitionally "chilly" and the afternoons pleasantly sunny. It is autumn! This means that we are outside more than ever, on unicycles, bikes, the scooter, the longboard, or simply walking, drawing with chalk, playing at the park, and sitting in the backyard. I have also started appreciating the flora here, such as live oaks, crape myrtles, magnolias and orange trees. 

I myself have picked up longboarding since being here. I had never really put any serious effort into skateboarding as a youth, and I had never even heard of a longboard before. However, I find it extremely satisfying and I love to feel my progress as I am able to steer, turn and control the board. It's exhilarating - and I find myself at several points throughout the day running outside just to cruise one more time down the street. Neighborhood children have commented on my progress, including one girl who said, "That's awesome that you can do that. Most moms can't skateboard." The longboard is also a great way to keep my speed even with Misha on the unicycle and Sebby on the scooter. Meanwhile, Misha has learned to ride the full-sized bike, although his legs are not long enough to allow him to sit down on the seat. It's a bit of a leg work-out for him, but he loves the speed.

Something about colorful laundry drying in the backyard makes me happy.


Finding rock treasures at the park

Misha's chosen rocks. 
Oranges ripening.

A beautiful pine.

Zooming along

Great fall weather for unicycling!

Longboarding self-portrait

Wheeling around at sunset

Me and Sebby on the go

Kisses from Daisy, whom we are dog-sitting

So affectionate!

And useful, too!
We have also swept off the roof of the porch, which we can access through the children's bedroom window, to make a spot where we can sit and read. (It's not high off the ground.) From there, we can enjoy a beautiful view of the yard, which is enclosed on all sides with big, overgrown, leafy trees, providing nice privacy.

"When I come home feelin' tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)"

Chalk fun:
Misha's dragon attacking the castle.

My sea monster

You'll see that we even wear sweatshirts and long sleeves at times!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two weeks with Grandma Kate

Airport welcome!

The last week of September and the first week of October was our long-awaited reunion with Grandma Kate. She was so excited to see her grandchildren again (and, you know, the rest of us too). We had a very nice two weeks, and Grandma Kate thoroughly enjoyed the kids - from playing games to taking walks. I know she especially loved the morning wake-up calls of the boys jumping on her bed before school, their enthusiasm to show her their toys and projects, and their general affectionate nature.

Misha and Sebby worked together to make this huge card for her.

It was full of messages, pictures, and origami.

A new Mancala opponent for Sebby to devour!

Pizza Hut ... We really *are* in America again...

We all went out for a fun evening of mini-golf. I thought the boys might get a little tired of it, but no - they loved whacking the balls through the glow-in-the-dark course. To add to the amusement, several holes had funny tasks to complete, such as standing on one foot, hitting behind your back, or switching with an opponent's ball.

Misha looking cool with the aliens.

Grandma Kate hides from the aliens.

Ashley behind the back!

Golf pose!

No doubt that was a hole-in-one.

Homework help.

A yummy meatloaf dinner, one of many tasty meals we made.

Bud + homemade ice cream = contentment

Another game that Sebby loves - Jenga.

Back to the kitchen.

Bud's cousin David and his wife Misti came for dinner.

The whole gang!

Homemade chicken pot pie :)

Sword fight with uncle Bud!

A friendly toad I found.

A wonderful treasure hunt that Misha made for me :)

Outside antics

Giving in a whirl

We took plenty of walks

Sebby admires the "gribochki"

Performing a trick on the scooter.

Brothers in the tree.

Hooray, we got Grandma Kate up too!

Chocolate zucchini cupcakes

A quiet evening at the beach.

We got everyone on some wheels.

At the park again for frisbee golf.

Bud gave us pointers.

Helping with Bud and Ashley's garage sale

The boys sold cookies and lemonade. "Fresh cookies! Homemade!" they called out.

We had a girls' night out with Ashley and her mom, me and Grandma Kate. We went to the Painted Potter and each chose a piece of pottery to paint as we pleased. 

I decorated my chalice with a chameleon theme.

We went back with the boys so they could paint something too.

The moms.
Two weeks went by quite quickly. Before our time was over, we managed to fit in one more trip to the beach with Kate's friend Sirina and family, complete with a picnic of sandwiches and brownies. Misha got busy right away making an impressive castle and moat. I made a sea monster that got washed away by the waves. Sebby, as usual, couldn't get enough of the shallow rolling water.

Misha hard at work

Waves flooded in to fill up the moat perfectly.

My bedraggled sea monster

Washing away

Sebby and his new friend Annie

Sebby framed by seagulls

Sirina and Kate

Warm water

Cuddles for Grandma

We had a great time. See you soon!