Monday, March 19, 2012

family time

My father turns 60 this month so we (my brothers and I, plus our families, of course) gathered at my parents’ place in West Virginia for a work weekend—our birthday present to him.

We’ve done this before. It’s kind of our standard birthday gift. But it’s a fun one. He and Mom make the rounds between my house and my brothers’, helping out with whatever needs helping out with, so it’s nice to turn the tables and return the favor.

This time around, we fixed, scrubbed, tilled, mended, built, weeded, dug, hauled, mulched.

At the end of the day, there was a tour to admire the completed work.

A lot got accomplished, but our work pace was leisurely. There were lots of breaks for visits, hikes, playing, and long lazy meals. In fact, it didn’t feel like we were working all that much.

Or maybe that was just my feeling.

I mostly wandered around with my camera, taking pictures of everyone else doing all the work, though I did spend some time in the raspberry canes. I even have the scratched-up ankles to show for it.

(Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not there.)

Other activities included:

lots of baby holding...

(and lots of arguing over whose turn it was to hold the baby)

piano pounding...

book reading...

Parcheesi playing...

dollhouse arranging...

story telling...

tree climbing...

new house plan figuring...

mountain hiking...

tag tagging...

(and ecstatic fleeing...)

and hot dog roasting...

Also, I managed to almost burn the house down with some waffles.

Sunday brunch was my responsibility, so I made waffles, since that’s what I do on Sundays. Apparently, the three waffle irons were too much for the house’s electrical system and halfway through the meal, the table erupted with shouts of “Fire!” and “Flip the breaker!” and “Where’s the extinguisher!” I had no idea what was going on, except that I could no longer cook my waffles since all the power was suddenly shut off. So while the rest of the family jumped about and flapped their arms, I blew out all the votive candles and shooed the stunned children out onto the porch .

And then I grabbed my camera and took a picture of the deserted table. Deserted by everybody except for one happy, waffle-eating person—the boy who cried fire. Was that a smooth move, or what?

Once the situation was under control, the evacuees were called back in and we resumed our waffle feasting, though with one less waffle maker and with the other two plugged into outlets that weren't connected to the bad circuit.

And just so you know, burning electrical cords smell like a rotting animal, not like scorched chemicals like you (or I, at least) would expect.

As for the birthday celebrating, it wasn’t a fancy-schmancy affair. We didn’t even have a birthday cake.

Instead, my mom let the kids stick some candles in Saturday's breakfast sweet rolls, and we burst into rousing renditions of Happy Birthday whenever the mood struck.

And then we drove home through a warm spring rain to our little piece of world that is now a bright Irish green.

The end.

This same time, years previous: our house lately, oatmeal pancakes 


  1. You gave me warm fuzzies. And that second to last photo could make me cry- what a sweet, sweet face.

  2. What a wonderful family and a beautiful gift to your father. Happy Birthday to him. My mom turns 60 at the end of the month too. I hope we can do something as special for her.


  3. The other brother gets the credit for noticing the smoke first. I just got really loud about it as soon as I caught on.

  4. That pic of your baby carrying the "cake" is too much for my hormonal self.

    Is the little wire whisk I made for the doll house still around?

  5. You are so, so, so, so fortunately to have family close by as you do. Beautiful pictures of a special time.

  6. 2nd to last photo has Tasha Tudor-esque feel to it. And, love the boy who cried fire. Smart boy.

  7. Saturday was a fantastic day, one worthy of a 60th birthday celebration. So much work was done amid the play and relaxation, probably six Saturday's worth. I didn't think about there being no cake until reading this post. Even so, I'm now trying to shrink back to an acceptable size!

  8. This is actually my favorite Mother's Day present from my family. They weed & till the garden & it's ready for me to plant!

  9. I love your family. :) But I have one question: Is your mom ok after the outlet incident?????

    1. Last I checked, she was doing just fine. The shoulder twitches and eye rolling were almost completely under control.

  10. That mountaineer's a lucky man!
    (So is that other Kathy)


  11. #1 Your dad does not look 60. I like him. He's funny.
    #2 Mr. Handsome looks like Buddy the Elf {minus the leotards} in that photo. But with larger muscles.
    #3 Best picture in the bunch: Rainbow Girl.
    #4 What is in the bucket? Turnips?

    1. Turnips and carrots (some of which I later roasted).