Wednesday, April 30, 2008

D is for Drive

Oh, boy, yesterday was a big day!

Our oldest son, Mason, got his IP driving permit. IP stands for Instruction Permit. I think it refers to the people handing those licenses out "Insane People". A little background may be needed. In Kansas, a 14 year old may take a short written drivers test to receive an IP. An IP allows the teen to drive with an adult in the car. They need to build up and log fifty hours of drive time, so that when they turn the ripe old age of 15 they may apply for a restricted driver's license. With a restricted license, the teen may drive to school, work or home...alone. No other passengers other than an adult. Once he reaches 16 he then may obtain a full driver's license.

Mason was 14 in January and has patiently waited for his parents to summon the courage to allow him to drive. Now that he is nearly looking me in the eye, I figured I could not put it off any longer.

We have had many encouraging suggestions. One was to set up cones in the funeral home parking lot and let him practice how fast he could drive around them. His brother, Dane, suggested learning how to drift (back end of the car slides as you drive fast around corners). Another suggestion, by his Aunt Brett, was to let our friend, Jeffer, teach him emergency driving. Jeffer trains the new ambulance drivers for the county Emergency Medical Services. Huh? I'm thinking more along the lines of observing the driving practices of the older residents of our town...slow, very, very slow.

Mason demonstrated pulling into a parking space at our local high school parking lot and pulled in perfectly on the first try. After I pulled my jaw off the floor, he grinned and said "driving the golf cart has been very helpful". He has a good head on his shoulders, is cautious and not easily swayed by his peers. Mason will do well as a driver.

Silver-blue Town and Country Van

or White Suburban

Case your wonderin'.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Raised Beds - Is there a Pea Under that Mattress?

A raised garden bed has many advantages. It allows for deeper tilled soil, slightly earlier produce as the soil warms up faster and good drainage. So any garden girl worth her salt must have a raised garden bed! Bart and I went into the lumber store, had a quick conversation with the lumber man and ordered the wood. The ideal wood is cedar or redwood, but we took a bit of a shortcut and got treated lumber. I hear the organic gardener's gasping! I'm a newbie organic gardener and hope to improve substantially with age.

Mason took a wood shop class this semester and throughly enjoyed it, so I thought I'd ask him to help. Oh, my. I wasn't prepared for his sophistication, his dexterity, his knowledge. He knew, oh so much more than me. Well, ok, that's not saying much. Let me rephrase. He has mastered many woodworking skills. He measured the wood, and positioned and handled the electric saw like a pro.

We carried all the pieces to the location and he drove in the stakes.

We had a little trouble screwing in the nails, so Bart took care of that later in the evening.

Filling the beds with quality soil was a bit of a challenge. We had good dirt all around and it just took about ten thousand shovelfuls to get the beds full. We prevailed.

Next we planted lettuce and spinach seeds, and potato and onion sets and I'll be darned if the plants didn't sprout.

My handy-dandy assistant Bart did a fine job on the signage.

Step Two: Build Raised Beds - Complete. Now, we may need to devise a plan for a little problem we may face this summer: hot, southern winds.

Monday, April 28, 2008


My friend, Jean and I, go way back.

Here we are graduating from high school. I'm the blonde, back row, second from left...yes, it was once real! Jean's in the front on the right. Also in the back row, is my sister-in-law, Leslie, second from the right and my friend, Ann, on the right. The other gals, were good friends, too, but we've lost touch over the years.

Jean and I became friends in 7th grade. We double- dated in high school and remain close friends today.

Bart and Mike met and became friends sophomore year of college. A few weeks before our wedding in St. Louis, Mike decided to visit Bart for a weekend. An idea hatched...since Jean is a bridesmaid and Mike is a groomsmen, let's all go out together. I think you can guess the response. We had to do some fast talking to convince them both, it was NOT a blind date. We all went out Friday evening. We then spent the day together on Sunday.

Mike called shortly after the weekend to ask if he could stay with Bart again. Not to see Bart, of course. He then kept calling! Bart and I had the pleasure of being in the wedding party for THEIR wedding a little more than a year later! Moving back to Bart's hometown has made it possible for us see each other every few months as they live sorta, kinda, nearby.

Mike and Jean have two great kids: Allie and Nicholas.

Nicholas with Abbey tucked in his robe and Allie holding Daisy.

Dane, Allie, Spencer, Mason and Nicholas at the Old Town Brewery in Wichita for lunch.

Putt Putt Golf in June, 2007.

We somehow added Abbey to the family on our most recent visit. On their last visit here, Jean and I dragged out my old notes from high school. You just may remember the kind- written and passed in class. I have a shoebox full. We laughed, we gasped, we groaned and then we laughed some more. Oh, mercy.

Sharing a friendship with someone who knows your history - lived a lot of your history with you is something special. To think they've seen the good, the bad and the ugly and they still want to be your friend!

Our house is next for the Member/Guest Golf Tournament. Bart and Mike are the foundation of a team. They stack, I mean, fill in their team with other golfing friends. They are both PASSIONATE about golf and usually place well, if not win, the tournaments they play in. Jean and I, well, we play with the kids, lounge, read high school notes and laugh, laugh, laugh.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Youngest is a Year Older

April 20 was Spencer's 9th birthday. 9th, oh, my. How can that be? Unfortunately, we weren't able to celebrate on April 20. We have, however, had two celebrations so far...maybe that's helped.

Spencer knew exactly what he wanted for his birthday...

Our first celebration was a meal at Red Lobster and he selected the Snow Crab legs. He cracked, pulled and picked on his own and loved every minute of it!

Last Thursday, he had some buds over to help him celebrate again. He just loves these guys.

Especially since like him, they love to pretend they are wild and carazzzzy guys. I'm sticking with pretend...yup, that's my story.

Spencer's the guy in our family who gets us laughing and wondering WHERE he comes up with his stuff. Here are a few pictures from the last year...

Skiing in Breckenridge, March, 2007. That's Spencer in the front with his brothers, cousins, Marshall and Ellie and Uncle Marty.

Kids are amazing. He learned to ski over a three day period including riding the lifts up the mountain and attacking a blue slope on the last day! Green - beginner, blue - intermediate, black - expert, double black - certifiably insane person.

It would appear he lost both of his front teeth in this should see the other guy.

Happy Birthday, Spencer!

Much Love, Mom

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Garden We Will Grow

As a kid, my Dad gave me a little section of his garden to plant my seeds. Carrots and radishes. Easy to grow and especially fun to harvest. He also watched "The Victory Garden". Remember that show? I was hooked. When Bart and I were first married we had two years of big gardens and then we moved to a house with shade. Shade, shade and more shade. I was able to put in a couple of tomato plants here and there...a home grown tomato is...dreamy and delectible and almost worth cutting down a tree or two. I said almost!

I have been determined this year to put in a garden. After all we have vast amounts of dirt around our new house. We do, however, have a number of hurdles to overcome. The first - we have clay soil...not just a little clay, but hard, compact, takes all your might to get a shovel into clay soil. The man who excavated the basement couldn't stop talking about how hard our ground was...your house isn't going to go anywhere, not ever! What's good for the foundation, is bad for the garden.

This same man came to do some work on our driveway. Hmmm..."could you maybe take that huge bulldozer into the backyard and dig a 12" deep hole about 25' X 25'." "Sure, I'll use that hard, hard, hard clay for the driveway!" So I then called the landscaping company for topsoil. They referred me to a local concrete company. Huh??? The nice man said, "Well, yes, I have some good dirt for a garden. I'll send a load over today." No kidding!!! The world was moving fast now.

Bart came home and we went to the hardware store to buy all the really good stuff...composted manure, peat moss and compost. We spread it all over the new dirt, and our neighbor, Matt, provided the finishing touch. His tractor has a roto-tiller on the back. Thank you, Matt!

That night I dreamed of seeds, starter plants and rows of ripening vegetables. Step one, check! Step two, build the raised beds.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Forced Hiatus

Our computer at work caught a nasty Trojan virus. The virus debilitated the poor computer so much it finally said "oh, forget it." This unfortunate event required my home computer to go to work. It's been on the job since last Thursday, so not much blog writing time for me. Very sad.

Thanks to the handy-dandy computer repairman, it seems the computer at work is on the mend. So stay tuned, a new posting is on the way!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

He's Home!

We've been waiting for this day for ten long months! Bart's sister, Brett's husband, Greg, has returned from Afghanistan.

Just more than a year ago, they were married and, in July, he boarded a plane to serve our country.

We drove in caravan to Ft. Riley last Thursday to attend his Welcome Home Ceremony. While we waited his granddaughter, Maddox unknowingly entertained us.

Ft. Riley is ginormous. We took a bit of an impromptu tour because we were lost! We circled around and finally found the building, #88312, parked and entered. They had ample seating and two huge screens, where at first they were showing ESPN...ha! As the time of the ceremony approached, the show changed to photo montages of the troops in Afghanistan. Right at 4:00 p.m. the solders were announced and entered the room.

Greg is fourth from the end in the front row.

After a brief speech by a 2-star general, they turned them loose.

Brett's daughter, Brook, Greg, Brett's daughter, Piper, Brett and Brook's daughter, Maddox

Greg and Maddox

Greg and Brook

Greg, Bart's father, Jess and mother, Lauranell

Greg and Spencer with Mason

That baby girl needs another kiss.

Did I mention how glad we are to have him home?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Abbey Road

The Scene of the Crime.

After living in our new home for a few months, with our lab, Bailey living outside. Bart and I began to discuss wanting a dog that was calmer and didn't shed. We had heard about Labordoodles from another Wamego family.

Considered, considered...too big!

We then thought about a Wheaten Terrior, like my brother, Marty's dog, Maggie. Sweet, lovable, dog.

Considered, considered...maybe still too big.

We then traveled two and a half hours to visit our beloved friends, Jean and Mike and met...

Daisy is a cockapoo. She's almost a year old and is about 20 pounds of hypoallergenic dog. Hypoallergenic is the term used by the Petland salesman. I couldn't begin to make this stuff up.

Our plan: 1. look at puppies. 2. ask questions. 3. hold puppies. 4. ask more questions. 5. leave.

This would provide us with months, maybe years of material for deliberations on size.

Me: ok, everyone, I have what I need to know. We can go now. This would be a good dog for the future, down the ROAD. So we...

bought Abbey.

Nobody really likes her.

I swear!

Nope, not one of us!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hangin' with the Wichita Cousins

We traveled to Wichita this weekend and had the pleasure of spending Friday evening with Bart's cousin, Susie and her husband, Rick.

Walking into their house, big hugs were had all around. Their home gives you a hug, too. They've collected many treasures over the years, some have been inherited from family and others picked up on travels. Rick is a woodworker and included in his projects are wall length shelves in their kids rooms. He has also been building a garden shed out back. Hopefully they won't miss the beautiful wood-inlay chest he made for their daughter, Brianna. It even has a secret compartment! Sneaking it out of the house in the middle of the night was a challenge...I just kid.

Susie and Rick's, youngest son, Jarred, joined us for the evening. What a wonderful, young man. He's 23 - where does the time go. The first time I met him he was around Spencer's age, 8. He has a gift for working with kids and carries on his passion for swimming by coaching at Andover High School.

We had our boys, too, so when it came time for dinner, we headed to the best pizza place in Wichita, Knolla's. Aren't we goofballs?

We returned to their house for Susie's homemade Strawberry Pie...yummmm! Susie showed us a few of Molly the Wonder Dogs many tricks. We were amazed! They each have worked with Molly over the years, especially the kids, Trevor, Brianna and Jarred. I suppose saying they are kids is not accurate! Trevor is married to Shelley and they have a toddler named, Anistyn. They live in North Carolina where Trevor is in medical school. Brianna is working on a masters in, I believe, Animal Behavior, but don't quote me.
Here's Susie and Molly-

We loved seeing them! Susie, Rick and Jarred, thanks for being such gracious hosts!

Bart, Jenny, Mason, Dane and Spencer

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Field Trip We Will Go

Sandwiched between two beautiful, sunny, spring days was a cold, misty, dreary day. Weather,'s field trip day! Off we went to Topeka to the state capitol.

Inside we met our tour guide and were mesmerized by the facts, history and artwork. Don't we look mesmerized?

We made our way through the building and climbed many, many stairs. Who knew a capitol building had so many stairs! Spencer and I stopped on the sixth floor. Others, including Spencer's teacher, climbed a rickety-looking spiral staircase hanging from the top to the peak of the dome. They stepped OUTSIDE into the cold, rain-spitting, wind for a look around. His teacher said it was thrilling. Hmmm, what kind of thrilling do you suppose that was? Challenging one's self or near death? Here we enjoyed a few moments in the former chambers of the Kansas Supreme Court. The Governor's office and the Legislative Chambers were tour stops. The House of Representatives was debating an issue that has been in the news lately - two proposed coal fire plants in western Kansas. That was cool! Next it was off to Gage Park for a quick lunch. I'm talking quick... or freeze! After lunch, we headed to the Washburn University science building. We were treated to a whacky science professor's bag of tricks. Rockets, balls ricocheting and liquid nitrogen demos. We also enjoyed a show in The Planetarium. Finally, since it wasn't a good day for the telescope, the kids drew planets.

Spencer is channeling a college student here, and
has reached readiness for the bus home.