Saturday, May 31, 2014

Birdhouse Gourds

5 years or so ago Brian planted some birdhouse gourds in the garden. It was fun to watch them grow and they looked great sitting with the rest of the autumn harvest on the porch. When he planted them we thought it would be pretty cool to paint them and hang them from the trees. Guess what. We didn't do it. We did dry them out and put them on a shelf in the garage. We repeated that same process for a few years. Fast forward to two weeks ago. The time had come. I googled painting birdhouse gourds and found a few tutorials so we decided to see what fun we could have with our 12 dried gourds. 

The first step (not pictured) was to soak them for 4-8 hours and then use steel wool to scrub the outer skin off. Our first attempt taught us that you really do have to have the gourds completely submerged in water. Any dry spots are super difficult to scrub. Each girl was glad she only had to scrub 2 gourds. Our second attempt, after complete submersion, went much better. I strung a rope across the back patio, Brian drilled holes in the tops of the gourds and inserted wire through them, and then I hung them up to dry.

Once they were dry they needed to be coated in a water sealer. I painted one coat on, waited a day and then painted the second coat on.

Once they were completely dry (it took a few days, especially since we had rain. Yay for the sealer!) I painted an exterior paint and primer on. I did three coats of that. The girls were excited when they came home from school and saw white gourds. They knew their time to paint was getting closer.

Finally all the prep was done and it was time to paint. I covered the table with paper, put out lots of paints and brushes and told the girls to have at it. They had sketched out some ideas and put a lot of thought into what they wanted to do. I only gave them 2 days to get it done. We have a couple girls that would spend many many hours painting so we needed a time limit. They were amazing with what they did. Tons of detail and personality with each gourd. We all learned it was more difficult to paint on the gourds than on a flat piece of paper. Everyone finished their painting by last night so I could do the final step today.

The final step was to paint 2 coats of a polyurethane clear gloss on the gourds. I wasn't as careful as I should have been and our gourds have some drips on them but oh well. No one is going to be too bothered by that.

I guess the final final step is to hang them. We're going to do that Monday. We haven't quite decided if we're going to drill holes in all of them to turn them into real birdhouses. I'm a bit concerned with them becoming wasp houses. We have one that is drilled and we'll see how that works out before drilling the others. You have to know how excited I am by these since I'm posting 12 individual pictures of them. If you are ever in our backyard, make sure you go on a treasure hunt and see if you can find all 12.

FYI - I'm not super savvy about all things blog so after spending 15 minutes trying to get these pictures in the order I wanted them with captions telling you who painted what I'm just going to give you a list and you can mentally put the captions with the correct pictures.
Samantha - forest tree house & green gourd with blue dots
Gretchen - disney gourd (w/3 different scenes, you only can see 1) & tree with red star leaves
Julia - sun gourd & the all thing Zelda gourd (the entire gourd, incl the bottom is covered in zelda things)
Sydney - black and white pattern & palm tree gourds
Denice - black w/white flowers & mexican fiesta gourds
Brian - Mexcian flag & farm (cat & windmill) gourds


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mt. Olympus

Mt. Olympus. Have you hiked it? Before yesterday, Brian and I have had 2 different experiences on that mountain. The first one was 20ish years ago when Brian, our friend Jason, and I climbed (with ropes and gear) the north face. I didn't really take part in planning the day, I just went for fun. It was fun. We started early in the morning so it wouldn't be too hot. We dropped one car off at the bottom of the hiking trail and drove another car to the neighborhood where we started our climb. I was still new to climbing and it was a little slow going but that didn't matter. We weren't in a rush and it was beautiful! We figured we be super quick hiking down the trail. When we finally climbed up to the ridge we realized that the trail was not right next to where we were. It was on the other side of the other peak. Oops. We then had to bushwack through the gully between the peaks in hopes of finding the trail. It was getting late, I was nervous but Brian and Jason seemed to think everything was fine. The sun started to set and it started getting dark before Brian kind of stumbled onto the trail. At one point on the way down, I think before we reached the trail, Jason was leading, then me, followed by Brian. Jason kind of jumped down a small ledge, I jumped right after him and then Brian called out for us to turn around and look at what we had jumped over. Rattlesnake, coiled and still. I think I ran the rest of the way down. We made it to the car by 10:00pm.

The 2nd time we attempted Mt. Olympus was 4-5 years ago. The girls were in school and we raced up as fast as we could. We got to the saddle and thought we would pass out so we turned around and hiked back down. It was a nice day but we should not have moved quite as quickly as we did.

(I'm having trouble finding pictures of this hike, just pretend there is a cute one of Brian and me here.)

Earlier this month I checked the calendar and saw that Brian would be home on Memorial day. The Mt. Olympus hike was something we wanted to do with the girls but we weren't sure when we'd be able to fit it in before summer and 100 degree weather hit. There were not many weekend days that Brian had off that we could do something together as a family so I quickly made sure that all the girls knew they were hanging out with us and going on a long hike. They were all good with it so we were set. The day before we went Brian and I were invited to go mountain biking on Memorial day and I have to admit that I wanted to that instead of hiking. I justified it with Brian by saying we could go with our friends and then come home and take the girls for a ride too. The girls were having none of that. They all wanted to do the hike. Brian read the description out of the guide book that told how steep the hike was and that it should take 5 to 7 hours to do. They were not swayed, I was out voted. Yay for the girls! I have to say my eyes kind of fill with tears when I think that they willing chose to spend that much time hiking as a family. (I think we're all going to struggle a bit when Sam leaves.)

The weather was perfect, the girls were troopers, Julia was a super strong hiker (what happened to the girl who hiked by me the whole time?), we ran into a friend on the peak, there were no ipods but plenty of songs, and we are all gimping around today - no one enjoys standing up after sitting for awhile. Overall an excellent day.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

0 to 18 in 2 seconds

Here it is, May 16 and I've been a slacker with this blog. However, I have not been a slacker in other parts of my life. There is much going on and much to be done in the next few months. You know how we are always running at full speed in the summer? Well, we've kind of cranked it up a notch this summer. But before we can get to summer we need to get everything ready for summer. That is what has been happening the last 3 weeks with me. I found that I was having difficulty sleeping with about a billion things running through my head all night. You know how it is. I really have no idea how anyone can just turn their heads off and stop thinking when there is a lot going on or a lot to do. Some people have that gift. I do not. Anyway, one early morning, when I couldn't force my eyes to stay closed one second longer even though I was tired, I jumped out of bed and made a list of things that I couldn't stop thinking about. It was a long list. Most things on that list were not things I could do in one day. A fair number of things were items/events that I didn't want to face (ie Sam leaving for college). I have slowly and steadily been checking things off that list. It's a very happy thing for me. I even rewrote my list because I was getting too distracted by all the crossed off items.

So, one of the big things on my list was Sam's birthday. She's 18 now. Wow, much wow on that.  She didn't exactly have the day she imagined but she was a great sport to celebrate with us and be happy about it. We are going to be having a fabulous fiesta for her graduation so it just didn't make sense to have 2 big parties 4 weeks apart. It really does feel like this has happened way too fast. I'm so happy she is such a lovely woman - inside and out.

Sam turned 18 on May 2!
Last lacrosse game together for these sistas.
Honoring the seniors - Brian had to work so I got to be the sole parent on the field with Sam.

The s'more season has begun. A few little cuties came over to enjoy some goodies and a beautiful day in the sun.