If you're wondering where I've been . . .

I've been here.


Doing this.


And it was amazing. Then we spent a few days with grandmothers before coming home to an ex-lizard and a cat gone native.

But I then I turned around and left again for a wedding. Which is quite some story. But I have to go to the hardware store now, so I can't get to it.

Besides, I am tired.


We're not quite done

traipsing about the countryside, but I thought I'd drop in to tell you something I've suspected about Charlie for a long time: that he doesn't really know how to play Chutes and Ladders.

We're on a two-week, three-camp, four-grandma tour and have a few days yet to go and we're at Grandma Jane's playing games in the hot afternoon between Frontier Camp and Vacation Bible School. Charlie insists we play C&L. The first time, Melody and I make him play by our rules.

(I can't really call them The Rules, because it occurred to me halfway through that I'd never actually played this game before and was inferring heavily, based on the physical laws of gravitational pull and too many years of other board games for ages 3 and up.)

The second time through, I was only allowed to choose the Caucasian boy in an orange shirt as my character, as 'de udder 3 all have gween on dem.' Charlie was all of the others. On my fourth turn, I picked up my cardboard persona and his little plastic orange base stayed on the table. Charlie swept him out of my hand and relocated him back in the box.

"Your chawachter was deleted because his pedestal fell off," he explained. (Yes, pedestal. He can't say 'that' right, but 'pedestal' came out an elocutionist's dream.)

He took his next turn (times three) then held out the box and said, "Choose you next chawacter. You can choose anyone if you want to." I tried to choose first the piece of wadded paper and then the chihuahua toy, but the directions were repeated until I chose more wisely.

A few more rounds of Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Mommy then my character was attacked by a monster mummy. His characters ran and turned on the (imaginary) lights so that the Monster Mummy would 'get scawed away' and then, next time the turn fell to me, I could once again 'choose any character.'

The pickings remained slim.

Then he decided that I needed two characters, only they had to, 'share dat pedestal cuz de udder one is in da dungeon.' I was allowed to add to my pedestal the African-American girl with the orange-striped shirt who wore brown shoes and green socks. I'm guessing my street cred is improving, as those two microscopic dots of green had previously made her inaccessible to me.

Adding the second character to the first pedestal did not give me additional turns, as, 'dey hafta go togedder'.

Charlie, Charlie, Mommy. Charlie, Charlie, Monster Mummy attack and I have to start over. Charlie, Charlie, Mommy. Charlie, Charlie for the win, cue Victory Music.

I was not allowed to sing Victory Music. 'You is not da winnah.'


Here's what I did yesterday

Well, we. This is certainly not a one-man job.

My last day of the school year was Saturday and we hit the ground running. We got a whole-house water filter in, got everything clean, ordered doors for the closet, got hinges and door fixtures swapped out to be more Charlie-friendly, started packing for a trip and, oh, yeah, made a backyard wonderland.


Notice how the monkey bars lead straight to the trampoline? And, just to rub it in a little to you big-city dwellers, this takes up about 1/5 of our backyard.

I have a more detailed picture saga coming later, but just know that this came in a comparatively small box and included a 48-page instruction booklet printed, I kid you not, entirely in French. Not the kind of French you speak when you hit yourself with a hammer, not the kind of "It's all French to me" feeling you get when you first look at any assembly book. It parlez-vous'ed the francais. Fortunately, I parlez-vous en peu of the francais.

When I look to the left, this is exactly what I see.

Except there are monkeys on the monkey bars. Totally worth the blister on my thumb.