Monday, March 1, 2021

Mysterious Chimney

 We live on just under three acres. Not a huge amoount of property, but somehow I had never noticed this: what appears to be a chimney poking up out of the ground at the top of a hill! In my defense, this area is covered with undergrowth and blocked by trees much of the year...

Obviously, this is the perfect fun story starter! (Unless you have seen or read "It", in which case it would be a different kind of story.) Here is what the kids came up with.


One day, I went for a walk with Mom. We saw a chimney in the ground. I looked in and I leaned too far and I fell down, down, down!
When I landed, I saw a whole bunch of kittens that tried to eat me. I climbed the chimney and the followed me. I went up our chimney and then they tried to follow me but they could not because my Dad started a fire in the fireplace. The end.

(Okay, maybe Shane was thinking of It after all.)


At the top of the hill next to our garden is a chimney. Inside of the chimney are some little gremlins. 

Whenever the gremlins get turned to slime they reappear there in the little gremlin prison. Then the little troll guards yell, “We got another one!” 

Then the troll king comes and says, “Good job, but there are still twenty more. Once we get them we will release them at night time so they can destroy more stuff. Then when they touch light they will come back here and we will do it all over again.”


Up on a hill by our house, there is a chimney that leads down to a house. The house is buried, and only the chimney is above ground.
In the little house that is underground, there is a family of little dwarves. They have a tunnel that leads to our pantry so they can have food. They probably don't think we know about the hole, because they covered it up with a wooden plank, but we know it's there because every time we step there it wobbles, and it isn't like the other boards.
So, yeah...we are neighbors with dwarves who have a secret tunnel to steal food from our pantry. But we are fine with it because we have plenty, and it's not like the dwarves can just go to Walmart and buy food!! So we let them have some of the food.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Mars Perseverance Stories

 From Logan:

When the robot landed on Mars it started to collect rocks. Then an alien kid came up and snatched the rock from the robot and said,” That's my Mom's favorite rock! He walked off and the robot turned around and there was a huge city of aliens flying cars everywhere and the alien was giving the rock back to its mom. 

The people who sent him were still at home sleeping so they had no idea that there was life on Mars. Since he couldn't be told to do anything  he was not taking pictures. 

The robot went after the rock. He climbed into the house and looked around. There were five other robots just like him, but they were acting like puppies. Then the robot fell in through the window. 

Then the boy said, “Feeding time puppies!” and the other robots went over to their bowls. The robot went to a bowl where there were rocks in it. He started to collect them, he looked over and the other robots were eating the rocks he had collected all the rocks in his bowl so he started taking them from the other robots but he did not know they were like robot dogs. The other robot that he was taking rocks from growled but the robot kept going. The robot dog knocked him over and growled the robot got up and ran away until he ran until the city was out of sight. 

The people that sent him there woke up and said it looks like He hasn't found anything yet besides rocks. That is SO boring. 

                                                   THE END

From Sheridan: 

  As the new rover was driving around Mars picking up rocks and recording the scene live to NASA and the world she heard a voice.

  “HEY!!! That’s my mommy’s special rock, give it back!” 

The rover turned to see an alien and a whole city right by him. The alien looked pretty close to a human. 

  “Well…” the little alien said with her arms crossed and tapping her foot. The rover set the rock down and the little alien grabbed it and ran off.  Everyone on earth just stared and stared.

  Then the little alien came back but this time there was a group of other aliens with her. They oohed and aahed and eeked and screamed and went to change their pants… 

  The little girl that had discovered the robot first picked it up and said, “Mommy can I keep it please please please!!!” 

“uh I guess?” said her mom. 

“YAY We are gonna have so much fun!” she said as she ran off carrying the rover in her hands. 

While she was at her house playing with the rover, everyone on earth was still staring, wondering what the heck just happened. The little girl on Mars was dressing up the rover. “You are such a cute little puppy! I am gonna name you Flarfy! BTW my name is Felicia. This city you are in is called Carclosafludose. My mom says it’s a mouthful to say but it would be a lot more than a mouthful if someone tried to eat the sign that says what our city is called, so I don’t know why Mommy said that ''.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Viking Adventure by Logan

         This might sound crazy, but I stole an elevator and just ripped it off the wires. I brought it home.

        It all started when I read the book Lift. I decided to look in the trash can for some buttons but I just found trash. So I decided to take one of the elevator buttons but I could not get it off So that's why I took the whole elevator. 

There were twenty buttons so last night I pressed one of them. That's when the elevator went crazy, it spun in circles and when the door opened I was in the middle of a Viking village. 

Two Vikings looked at me and said “Catch him!” 

I ran and the two Vikings followed a turn around a corner and dived in a boat. The boat started to sail off so I went over to some barrels and hid. 

I fell asleep and I woke up to shouting. 

I looked around and Vikings were running around a small island chasing people with gold and jewels. I got up and hopped onto land. Then a Viking spotted me and started chasing me. I ran up some stairs and saw a rack of weapons. I quickly grabbed two daggers and a small ax and ran into a room. 

The Viking walked in. Before he saw me I ran out of the room, closed the door and locked it. Then I made sure I had the weapons and ran. There were Vikings stealing and killing people. Then I saw the elevator. The two Vikings from before were looking at it. They were going to steal it.

I ran towards it and pressed a button. They came racing at me. I stabbed one with the dagger and the other one was not close enough to get to me. The door closed and I dropped the weapons as the door opened. I was back in my room. I left my weapons there for the next time I went somewhere and went to sleep. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Peculiar Children Annex - Camper Remodel

Back in the 60's my in-laws, Jack and Jean Jones, were living in El Paso with their three small children. They bought a beautiful spot of property in the mountains of southern New Mexico, and whenever they had a minute - weekends, vacation time, etc. - they traveled up to the mountains to build their new home there. Pretty amazing, when many adults these days can't build a simple shelf! While they worked on the house, they lived in this little camper.

All of them. Two adults, three children. I still can not wrap my mind around that.

In the years since then, the camper has been used for various storage purposes, and the trees that were tiny saplings 50+ years ago are now tall and solid...and have cut off any chance of removing it easily. 

It sits maybe 30 feet off our back door. I stuck my head in once shortly after we moved in, and decided to pretend it just didn't exist until we could get rid of it.

Then, while we were taking a walk one night and I looked up at it from the road, the thought popped into my mind that it might actually make a cute play house. I made the mistake of thinking out loud, and the kids pounced. PLEASE, Mom??? I needed another project, right?

First to take stock of the situation.



Is that a saddle?

Okay, obviously the first thing to do is empty it out. Considering all the other creatures that have obviously called it home, I didn't let the kids help, but they were fascinated. I had to draw an imaginary perimeter for them to stay outside of, but they stood with toes at the edge, watching and commenting. 

My first thought was to tear out the old appliances, but then I thought what's a play house without a play kitchen? And the old fridge is just so cute!

Well, it could be...with some scrubbing...and fresh paint...and if I can fix that bottom part...

Yes, I wore PPE!

Yes, that is somebody's old nest, with inches-thick layers of poop and pee underneath. Every enclosed area (and several not enclosed) were like that. LOTS of scrubbing to do. 

And I see those pink leggings, young lady - bringing my camera to me does not give you permission to stay inside the imaginary perimeter. Scoot.

Oh hey, look, masks!

HOW are those still white? I'll just use my own, thanks.

Now this box is worth sorting through:

Some useful treasures gleaned from the piles:

And at the end of stage one we have:

Needs a new floor, and I think I will add shelves. May as well cut the pipe out and seal it, we won't be running anything through it.

Drawers all removed for scrubbing/bleaching. Seat cushions tossed, springs and all. Table seems usable but needs new hinges. Lots of windows!

The another story. Here I unearthed the only actual mouse. She was displeased. Lots of floor damage. If all else fails I may just seal the whole thing off. would make a cozy reading nook...

Next up...dump run!

Several dump runs, actually (thanks Daddy!) Christopher was a huge help moving trash to the driveway, en route to the dump, but I still wasn't ready to let the kids do more than peek inside. It would be a bit ironic to miss coronavirus only to come down with hantavirus! 

I filled the shop vac twice with mouse turds and acorns, which was just a start. All of the drawers were scrubbed, soaked in bleach water, and then painted. 

Blue? Why not. I happened to have a can of blue spray paint, and the kids are already planning a tie-dye color scheme!

I didn't get a 'before' of this cute stool, but it was already a faded yellow, so I just brightened it up.

Note supervisory chickens.

It immediately became The Favorite Chair. As in, the one everyone keeps fighting over...

Next up inside was tearing out the old flooring. I think it used to be some type of linoleum...

Sigh of relief that the floor underneath was in pretty good shape! Some of the lino came up in good-sized chunks. Other parts came up in teeny. tiny. chips.

I decided to remove as many pipes and wires as I could to make cleaning and remodeling easier - we won't have water or gas run to it, and any electricity will be battery powered or via extension cord. Of course, everything was on there TIGHT! After struggling with the line to the stove, we decided to just go ahead and cut through it all. By "we" I mean I decided, and Mike got to cut.

There was an earlier water leak over the stove that damaged ceiling and wall. Since the cabinet there was out of kids' reach anyway, I decided to take it out. I forgot to get a 'before' picture, but despite it being crumbly it took a bit of work to remove. I started out with a flat bar, but the wall was too spongy to get any purchase. I ended up using a combination of screwdriver and good old hit-it-with-a-hammer. The screws were all, of course flat heads.

I hate flat head screws. With a passion. And, of course, it was open to the cabinets on the other side, so I will need to seal that up, but it's not as bad as...

Yeesh. Looks awful, but a pretty easy fix. I ripped out the worst parts (guess I shouldn't have bothered washing my hair this morning), and later we will put new wood over the old.

Another issue area is the far end of the camper. Slight water damage, but mostly the gap open to the outside is the problem! The curve of the wall made simply filling it in a bit tricky, so I decided to put in a low bench and just cover/seal it all that way. That also takes care of the hole in the side of the cabinet where the piped ran through.

Like my flyaway hair in the corner? And the egg sacs on the wall. I did relocate one black widow who was living in the kitchen area, but we don't mind other buggies.

Much better!

And then there was this thing, just begging to smack someone's shins.


I cut that off and then sealed the insides of the cabinets and the floor with a coat of elastomeric.

I can tell you one thing, it sure smelled a lot better in there at this point!

At this point (I had also been scrubbing with disinfectant over and over), I decided it was safe enough for kids to come in. They were SO excited!

And immediately left their stuff all over.

Now that they can come in, I can put them to work.

I scrounged the 2x8s at the local Restore. Not pretty, but sturdy enough for my purposes.

The counter top had seen better days. 

I may go through and put linoleum over it later, but for now another good scrubbing and contact paper will do.

Don't you love how much face cuts bleed?

Don't ask.

Now for a little wood...

A little primer...

Some finishing touches...

All items found while we were emptying the camper out.

And...(drumroll please)...

Before again:

And after:



Needs curtains (ordered on Amazon). Isn't the phone awesome? Yard sale find!

Grace's artwork: sky, sun, flowers, grass. And the brown is...because it's raining poop.

I need to remove the white paint on the cabinet, and curtains are coming for this window too. The kids are having a BLAST pretending to cook things!



Christopher's artwork. Chickie nuggies!.

Sheridan's artwork (latest obsession).



That's the drive-up window for the taco truck/cafe/whatever it is this week.

Logan's art, and the phone number for the kids' taco shop!

And finally, the bathroom, which I came close to sealing off and ignoring:


And after:

My plan is to decoupage the walls with pages from discarded books, but it is already quite easily the favorite spot - and pretty comfy (of course I had to try it out first!)

So, it's pretty much done except for some finishing touches! What ever will I do with all my time now?

Cue child yelling from the back porch...