Second Tree Blog

Semi-regularly updated musings from the Tim, Julie, Benton, Carson, and Alana Wilsons.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Making Friends with Bumper Stickers

Julie's mother came into town for a few weeks on Wednesday. To celebrate her arrival, Julie and I made a run to Handel's Ice Cream to pick up some peppermint stick ice cream. Handel's ice cream is good stuff. There's one ten minutes from us, and it's open year-round. The first few times we went it was still late summer, and the lines were pretty long. The last few times, the weather has been nippier, and there's been no line at all! It's an order-at-the-window place, so there's no going inside to get warm.

As it turned out, the peppermint stick ice cream...was due to be made starting the next day! Egad! That didn't stop us from loading up on four pints of other flavors. And, I made a return trip this evening to get a couple of quarts of peppermint stick. This is not going to help our waistlines heading into the holidays.

But that's not really the story. While we were standing at the window waiting for our pints to be packaged, a lady walked up behind us with a semi-sheepish look on her face. As she said, "Excuse me," I was thinking, "Lady, it's a good thing Julie's here, because if you're looking for directions, I work from home and know approximately three major roads in this town." What she said, though, was, "Excuse me. Can you tell me where you got your bumper stickers?"

Truth be told, I've been wildly lazy about swapping out my left-leaning/Unitarian/socio-political commentating magnetic bumper stickers ever since we moved to Ohio. As a matter of fact, I was still sporting the same two bumper stickers that were on the truck when I arrived in August. That's the same two bumper stickers that were shown in the pictures I took of my new vanity license plate a couple of weeks ago.

The lady really liked the "Democracy Is Not a Faith-Based Initiative" one. I was at a loss to answer her question as to where exactly it came from. I knew I had some bumper stickers from, but I was pretty sure that one was not. Julie was the one who snapped to and pointed out that the bumper stickers usually include the company's URL in small print (nice marketing, as we were in the midst of demonstrating!).

The three of us wandered back to the truck and pulled the bumper sticker off. I said, "You can have it. It's been on there way too long anyway." I then grabbed the stack of 20 or so other magnetized bumper stickers from my car, and Julie and the lady (did I mention that she had a companion with her who was sitting in their car watching this whole exchange with a semi-perplexed, semi-bashful look on her face?) started going through them and writing down the different sites from which they'd been ordered. The lady initially protested taking the sticker, but she acquiesced when: 1) she realized that bumper stickers are a rotating thing for me (she was still semi-protesting when I filled the newly-created blank spot with "U.S. Foreign Policy: We'll Bomb that Bridge when We Get to It"), and 2) I pointed out that giving it away was going to make a much better story (do you agree?) than just giving her the URL to go and order her own.

I eventually wandered back to pay for our ice cream. Julie chatted with the lady a bit -- found out she has a sister in New Braunfels -- and we returned home...speculating as to whether or not my mother will restock my collection at Christmas or not...


Monday, November 26, 2007

[Julie] Painting an Elephant

My dad likes the saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." I was reminded of this because Alana has been painting. She has become quite obsessive about her artwork, spending hours coloring over the past month, and most recently, painting. She is very much in a monochromatic stage, so generally sticks with one color for an entire picture.

A few weekends ago, she painted numerous pictures while standing on a stool in the kitchen. She was talking about painting a tail and sometimes a trunk. Every time I asked her what she was painting, she said she was painting an elephant. So, what you see here is one days worth of paintings, all titled "Elephant" by AKW.

If you are Alana, how do you paint an elephant? One color at a time...... over, and over, and over, and over, and over again!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's All About the Accessories

Pink gloves. Who would deign to detract from those with...clothes?!

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Julie and Carson's "Fancy" Birthday Dinner

The downside for Julie when it comes to sharing a birthday with Carson is that...she's going to be sharing her birthday with Carson for all eternity! The upside for Carson is that he gets multiple celebrations, it seems. On their actual birthday, Julie decided she'd like to go out to a nice dinner, so everyone got dressed "fancy." (Carson't birthday continued for four days until his party at Chuck E. Cheese's). This meant Benton wore a collared shirt and Tim changed out of jeans. We went to a nice Italian place in downtown Dublin. Alana started the drive there by saying, "I'm FANCY! I'm FANCY"...and then fell asleep. But, she seems to have the power nap mastered, as this is who emerged after a 10-minute snooze:

She was even game for gazing into her dad's eyes.

Service was a bit slow, there was plenty of time for pictures, including a picture of the honorees:

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And. We. Have. SNOW! (Barely)

Still no snow in Columbus, but we headed north -- towards Cleveland and the lake effect -- for Thanksgiving. There was a sufficient dusting there to get the Wilson Kids outside and eagerly making snowballs off of the trampoline and deck. Their cousins followed...semi-reluctantly (it would be hard to find two kids who are better sports about this sort of thing).

Alana's hat. Funny story. We were in Krakow, Poland for Julie's brother's wedding. Julie picked this up from a street vender and thought it would be good for Benton. It was priced at ~$10 US. As Julie was trying to ask something about it, the vender thought she was haggling. Ultimately, it cost us $6 and is on kid no. 3!

Part of the reason we moved to Ohio was so the kids could be closer to their cousins. Until early next year, this is the whole crew: Carson, Tyler (Lyren), Alana, Meg (Lyren), Benton.
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Monday, November 19, 2007

The Tim-Julie Home Customization Duo Strikes Again!

It took several months, but we finally got our first functional/creative joint project knocked out. The boys were in the habit of dumping their backpacks outside the coat closet in the front hall, which is also where we store our shoes. So, we had a perpetual "Door Vomits Coats, Shoes, and Backpacks" modern art installation going on in our front hallway. We came up with the design for the personalized (the ABC kids -- Alana, Benton, and Carson) backpack/coat rack below -- woodworking by Tim, painting by Julie, installation by Tim and Benton.

Carson commented this afternoon that he hates his name because he comes last. Poor kid. Middle child. Last alphabetically.
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Not What It Looks Like

These days, it's rare to catch Carson and Benton within three feet of each other and being happy about it for more than about 30 seconds. So, how on earth did we get them to share a bed?!

Well, this picture is wildly misleading. While I was in D.C. last week, Julie moved the trundle bed (the lower trundle part) from the basement up to the family room. Her mother is coming to stay with us for a while starting next week, and she is still on the mend from recent back surgery. So, we decided it would be good to get her set up to sleep on the first floor. That means we now basically have a twin bed in our living room. Facing the television. The kids snuck in 15 minutes of Mythbusters tonight, so they hardly noticed they were sharing a bed, blanket, and comforter!
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Happy Patriots-Thanksgiving-Season Day

The kindergarteners at Carson's school have been working for several weeks on a singing/recitation program that was part patriotic songs and partly Thanksgiving-ish songs...and recitations. This afternoon was the big event. Carson was excited that he got to get a pair of chinos to wear with his collared shirt. It's impressive how many different pieces they had memorized!

Of course, the best part for carson were the refreshments that the parents were invited to come back and share!

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'Tis the Season...

Julie has learned that the best way to keep me from grousing about the impending appearance of Christmas decorations is to just start decorating. As you can see, she had a couple of elves who were eager to assist!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Versatility Is the Key

Julie headed out this afternoon to run several errands. The kids and I settled in to watch the OSU-Michigan game (Go Buckeyes!). It turns out that only Carson has a football attention span anywhere near long enough to watch an entire football game. Alana was playing with Legos in the family room, and I asked her if she wanted to go upstairs for rest time. She immediately responded, "Yes." That took me by surprise. But, I told her to go ahead and head upstairs. She departed...with no escort. Benton and I headed outside to make a fire with which we could burn off a bunch of junk firewood that the previous owners of our home left (they left a bunch of good stuff, too!). An hour or so later, I came in and hollered up to Alana that her rest time could be over. No response. I headed back outside. After another 45 minutes or so, I came back in. This time, I wandered upstairs to check on her. Things were awfully quiet, which is not normal for her rest times!

Backing up a little bit, Alana's room has two beds currently: her crib (which she now gets out of on her own) and her four-poster/canopy bed (which was Julie's as a child). The picture below shows part of the crib on the left and part of the bed in the main part of the picture:

Look at that picture again. What I was really taking a picture of is that little hand that you can see right in the middle of the picture. Did you notice it the first time?

That's where I found Alana. Zonked out completely -- to the point that she was oblivious to close-in flash photography:

I left her there, and she had a pretty good, long snooze. This gave Benton and me enough time to not only get a nice fire going, but to split a lot of the good wood and stack it up for inside-fire use, and also to make some dinner rolls from scratch, half of which we cooked up in a Dutch oven on coals from the fire. Yummy!

This cool weather ain't bad at all!
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We Finally Explore the 10-Acre Farm Behind Our House

Carson and I decided last night that it was time for us to go on a hike and explore the 10-acre "farm" to which our house backs up, which we did after breakfast this morning. It's got a little creek running through it, and we saw what I'm pretty sure was a wolf. Julie's seen a fox three times, but this creature was as big as Elwyn and was definitely not a dog. Carson led the way for the most part, and he periodically decided that he needed to scale large vines to get a higher vantage point from which to plot our course:

Towards the end of our hike, we came across a fort that other kids must have built at some point in the past. As it turned out, this fort was a mere 25 yards from our house:

We also found some old farm equipment near the fort:

When we returned home, Carson was anxious to take Benton out to show him the fort. Benton came up with the idea of adding a roof to it, which we did with sticks and branches that were lying in the area. The fort is now fully roofed, if only ~3 feet tall! Plenty of room for the boys to get inside, though.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

[Tim] Obnoxious Texan Moves to Ohio

Vanity plates have always seemed so, well, vain to me. But, I couldn't resist...!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

[Julie] Sculpting with Carson

Last week, the Glacier Ridge PTO paid to bring in a stone sculptor, Gideon Nyanhongo, from Zimbabwe, to come sculpt for the kids. He gave demonstrations to all the classes during the week. He also did a few sessions on sculpting with smaller groups, where students got to sculpt soap with Gideon. Two students from each class were chosen to go. Carson was one of the 2 from his class and he decided to sculpt an owl.

After a suggestion from his teacher, I decided to buy a bunch of soap and let Carson teach the rest of the family how to do this. Grandma Pam came to visit on Friday for the night, so Saturday morning seemed a great time to tackle our assignment.

Let me set the scene....

We all slept in, not getting up until sometime after 7:45am, some as late as 8:15am. The kids all got busy doing things like coloring and fuse beads while Tim got biscuits going. We were in no hurry, though I felt the kids should eat something, so I got Alana, Carson and myself some food. Though I offered up oatmeal to Grandma, Tim, and Benton, I had no "takers" as they were going to wait on the biscuits.

By 9:00am or so, with the biscuits in the oven, it was time for Carson to teach us how to sculpt our soap. We all sat around the newspaper-covered kitchen table awaiting the handout of our soap. Alana wanted to do play dough, but quickly requested a bar of soap in order to be like the rest of us. Carson remembered lots of key elements from his sculpting class, like don't touch your eyes until you wash your hands! As we used our pencils, plastic spoons, forks, and knives, we discovered that the Dove soap I bought was a little harder to carve, and not shaped too squarely. Nonetheless, we persevered.

I picked a snowman for my soap creation, which seemed reasonable given it was white. Tim was inspired to make a tree, while Pam worked on another snowman. During the carving process the soap "told" Pam it wanted to be a penguin instead when part of its head came off forming a beak-like shape. Benton started a sunburst, while Carson worked on a human.

Soon, the timer went off, the biscuits came out to cool, and the carving continued.

Later when the biscuits were cold, we were lamenting the absence of power tools for our project and discussing how Grandma Pam, Benton and Tim had not yet had any food despite it being 10:30am. We carved on.

At one point, Tim hastened downstairs and fired up the band saw. When I heard the noise, I assumed he must have gotten tired of using his plastic knife, but when he returned I discovered he was simply building a stand to hold his creation. In the end, everyone ate, but not before 3 sculptures were completed.

Behold, our morning efforts at art.....

This is a far cry from the work of the 2nd generation master carver whose work is far more complicated and beautiful......

....but I, for one, enjoyed the experience of trying out this craft and especially of having Carson be my teacher. If you use the guest bathroom in the next few months, you are apt to have some oddly shaped, somewhat lumpy soap to use with a fond memory carved out of it.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

West Virginia Weekend Part 5 (Final from Tim): The Inanimates

The weather was perfect. Cool and sunny. Bob has several apple trees behind the barn, and they produce fruit consistently, but the worms, birds, and deer get to them long before any humans. I liked the picture.

This shed is missing part of its roof, it's been shored up repeatedly in the back, and it's on the docket to be replaced by a pole barn. But there's been talk of that for four or five years with no progress as of yet. I smell a vacation project for me some time in the next few years...

Keys to note here: 1) no polarizing filter or digital editing were used to make this sky appear any more blue than it was, 2) the open bay to the left of the where the tractor will once again reside once it is finished being fixed (Alana announced that, "Daddy broke the tractor" several times this weekend!), and 3) behind the shed is the barn and, off in the distance is the hunting cabin and the storage shed next to it, so you get some feel for the main architectural features of the property.

One more shot of several of the buildings at the farm.

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West Virginia Weekend Part 4: Fun with Molly

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West Virginia Weekend Part 3: More Activities and "Firsts"

Benton -- shown here on our buckeye hunt -- and I (Tim) took Alana down to the river on Saturday morning and built a fire on the bank. After dark on Saturday night, the two of us walked the back way (down a deer trail cutting across a steep hill) down to the river and around to where the fire had been (I'd put it out with river water before leaving it mid-morning). It was a new moon (or a late-rising moon), so very dark...and pretty cool!

Carson got some quality time in with Grandpa Bob on Saturday afternoon as they headed up to the area around the high point to put out corn for the deer. Carson was quite the chatterbox and is anxiously awaiting the time when he turns nine so that he can go hunting. I don't know if Bob came up with "nine" on the spot, or if he was basing that off of deeper thought related to Carson's eldest cousin, Tyler. Either way, Carson is counting the days, and he is somewhat perplexed that Benton, who will be nine in less than half a year, is not interested in hunting!

Alana. Cute. As. A. BUTTON! While jumping in the leaves, she brought a "berry" she had found on the ground over to show to Julie and Bob. Turns out, deer turds look a lot like berries to a 2-year-old!

And...the buckeye hunting. We spent some time rooting around the base of a buckeye tree behind the barn and filling a bucket with fallen buckeyes. The best bet is that these will get transformed into a buckeye necklace.

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West Virginia Weekend Part 2: A Pile of Leaves...

We spent close to two hours on Saturday afternoon with a large pile of leaves. Suffice it to say that: 1) our little mini-compact digital camera doesn't do high-action-in-the-shade all that well, and 2) it's hard to narrow down to a small number of pictures.

Benton, Carson, and Alana all took turns running and jumping into the pile. Carson even did a forward roll into/through the pile. And, Julie, Benton, and Carson each took a turn being buried in the pile and then having the others tunnel in from the sides to find them.

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West Virginia Weekend Part 1: Biggest News...

Saturday evening, Carson lost his first tooth. Despite the fact that Julie brought along his extra large, glow-in-the-dark tooth container, the Tooth Fairy was unable to find him in the remove reaches of western West Virginia.

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