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Our Beach

January 30th, 2011 by Matt

The beach is one of our favorite places to visit. Sure, you can dig in the sand and splash in the water (um, not in February) – but my favorite aspect of the place is its inherent wildness. “Our” beach, as C&D note (as if its theirs) is one of the great wild places near the city, bordered by a wildlife refuge on one side, rivers on two others, and lots of water on the other side.

The city isn’t far away and often intrudes, but always in ways that are far away from neat rows of stores of houses. Boats have barnacles, rust, and frayed ropes. And sometimes they even break apart and leave rotting steel to wash ashore with a mess of little crabs clinging to it.

And in some sense it really is “our” beach. Drive until the road ends, hang a right, and keep going until you leave civilization behind. And just to make sure that everyone else knows, claim the beach with your name.

And forget about those little shovels and buckets. We bring a real shovel to the beach, and we know how to use it.

And we know how to do cartwheels, too. Almost.

And when we need an even less structured place to play, we can always get lost in the sand dunes and tall grass – at least in winter, when the snakes and mosquitoes are easier to avoid.

Editor’s note: Actually, “Our” beach is just down the coast, where barricades prevent cars from driving further. This area is the “horsie beach” (“hossie beach” for David), because sometimes riders on horseback come to enjoy the loneliness.

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Pooh’s Party

January 25th, 2011 by Joyce

Today after lunch C&D listened to the second half of Winnie-the-Pooh while I got ready for the day’s round of lessons.  At the end of the story, Christopher Robin and all of the animals hold a party for Pooh.  To help C&D transition to the work they would be doing after the story, I encouraged them to draw a picture of Pooh’s party while they listened.  I wrote down a list of the story’s characters so they could label their drawings.  This is what I got from Carmen:

Carmen - Pooh Birthday Party2Last week C&D were gifted with a 96-count tower of Crayola crayons.  Carmen and David found colors they didn’t even know existed, like purples and pinks with glitter shimmer melted in.  I like how Carmen used a fair number of them in this picture.  I also like how she used all caps and drew arrows linking the names to her figures.  When she handed me her picture she realized she forgot about Rabbit, so she ran back to the table and drew him in real quick on top of Eeyore.  The little figure up top is supposed to be Owl.  In this picture he looks a bit like a butterfly. 

After I stamped Carmen’s picture with the date, she posted it on one of our magnet boards.  The boards are where all the good stuff goes.

And this is what I got from David:

David - Poohs Birthday PartyHe took a little longer because he drew two pictures and went into some detail (my mother would say that would remind her of a little someone named Joyce).  He labeled the sun, then remembered he was supposed to label the figures, too.  He took Carmen’s cue and drew arrows from the text to his figures.  The red lines around Roo in the top picture are supposed to indicate that he is jumping very high.  The Pooh at bottom, eating honey next to the table, has little claws on his feet. Kanga and Roo are watching.  David worked for a little longer, and then brought me his page with a smile.  “It was hard,” he said, “to write all those letters, and think about what I could spell!”  In addition to the names, on the second page he had written “Pooh (loves) hunnee.”  “And,” he added, “you know what?  I made all the branches!  Carmen said, ‘Did Mommy draw those?’ and I said, ‘No, it was ME!’”

Then he took the picture back.  He had just realized he could maybe make a kite out of the thing, and got to business taping on a paper tail (you see part of it on the second picture at the left) and punching holes that he thought could be used for string (you see the holes at the top of the second picture).

Pooh on the walls and a Pooh kite.  I think Christopher Robin would have liked those ideas very much.

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Now We Are Six

January 23rd, 2011 by Matt · 1 Comment

Today, Carmen and David turned six years old.  When they woke up (too early, as usual, despite their colds), they found a few small presents at the top of the stairs.

David woke up first.  After going upstairs he ran back down and into the bedroom, where I stayed snuggled under the covers.

“There is something on the top of the stairs,” David reported as he climbed onto my bed.

“Shh.  Whisper.  They’re for you,” I responded shortly as I tried to focus on thinking sleepy thoughts.  I had stayed up late, late, late the night before sewing, felting, and arranging.  I needed at least another hour of sleep.

Carmen sat up.  I heard David run back up the stairs, and then run back down.  Carmen climbed down the ladder of her bunked bed.

David climbed back onto the bed, his face inches from mine.  “Which one is mine?”

It was a safe bet that the pink crown was Carmen’s, since pink was her favorite color, and the purple crown was David’s, since that’s the color he prefers.  And Carmen’s sewing basket (underneath the pink crown) bore a tag with Carmen’s name, while David’s sewing basket was similarly labeled.

But it was nice that he checked, I guess.

Trying hard not to open my eyes, I mumbled that David’s crown was purple, and he should check the tags sewn on the baskets.  Then I rolled over.

Four little feet danced back up the stairs, and I pulled back the covers.  That extra hour of sleep was lost.  I decided to get up and watch the fun.

The crowns are each made from a sheet of gloriously soft wool felt folded, cut, and needle-felted to itself, then adorned with two needle-felted star appliqués.  A piece of 1/4″ elastic goes around the back.

While looking through their new books, C&D realized one of them said on the cover “Now We Are Six.”  Yes, we are!

Each sewing basket held crochet thread, fabric scissors, needles, a pincushion, and two threaders.  We put the supplies to use right after breakfast, and after a while were able to admire two new creations (a horse and a chicken).

Later in the day C&D took a long, warm bath, where Carmen lost another tooth

and thought about the probability chart she built with Matt.

Then, in the evening, we shared candles and cake:

Happy Birthday, little people.

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Longleaf Pines

January 16th, 2011 by Matt

Tree planting yesterday of 1670 longleaf pine trees with the Sierra Club and Big Thicket Association. The Longleaf has much of the same characteristics as we do; the very young are small amidst a big world, more a grass than a tree. Teenagers are a bit unwieldy, tall and spindly with a big mass of hairlike needles on top, trying (and failing) to look like they belong. Adults are tall and majestic, responsible for caretaking a whole family of critters growing beneath them.

After the hard work, Maxine Johnston (above) invited the group for dinner (and, in our case, cartwheels, chalk drawings, and fun with lightsticks)

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Pictures: Texas City Dike

January 14th, 2011 by Matt · 1 Comment

A few pictures from watching the birds and boats from the end of the Texas City Dike


Building a see-saw out of some rocks


Point Bolivar Lighthouse in the distance, survivor of the great hurricane of 1900 along with at least 125 people who packed inside.


MSC Jordan cargo ship, currently in New Orleans (per the internet)


BP Texas City refinery on the other side of the dike

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George Ranch and the new swing

January 8th, 2011 by Matt

Friends and fresh air today. The new swing at the Sharecropper’s Cabin made the morning perfect.

Matt took these photos.

I celebrated four years of AVM-ness by driving home.  I didn’t like it, and was beyond grateful and relieved to finally pull into the driveway, but . . . I did it.  I’ll try again soon.

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Dear Mom (a message from Gracie the dog)

January 8th, 2011 by Joyce

Dear Mom,

Since you are still out of town, Joyce came at noon today to take me for a walk. I walked with Carmen and David, as usual, and their friends Ashley and Reese.

While you have been gone Joyce has been trying to help me learn how to heel during our walks so I don’t pull on my harness and hurt my broken ribs. She thought I had been learning quite a bit, but today I kept forgetting what I was supposed to do. It was just so distracting to have company!

We walked to Jenny’s Noodles and Joyce placed an order to-go. We all stood outside and watched the humans walk in and out. I tried hard not to jump all over all those friendly-looking people! Right before the food came, a lady walked up to me and cooed, “What a beautiful dog!” I was so happy to hear such praise that I stood right up on my hind legs! She gave me a nice scratch and then I popped up and gave her a little kiss. She tasted a little like vanilla. “Oh!” she laughed as she stroked my ears. “I love those doggie kisses!”

“She EATS HER POOP!” Carmen blurted. Oh, what a tattle tale! Just because she caught me trying to eat my poop Tuesday doesn’t mean I do it all the time! And anyway, I’m trying to kick that habit–I didn’t eat ANY poo today!

Fortunately the nice lady just laughed and went inside to eat her lunch. And maybe brush her teeth.

After she left I found an old piece of gum on the ground. I started to chew it but that made the kids scream; I guess they didn’t figure dogs like me know how to chew gum. I spit it out, but now I have minty fresh breath. I am kiss-ready.

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