We always knew she'd be a big reader... here she is at our library reading her new favorite genre. She'll curl up in these chairs for hours with snacks, water, and her wrist phone. She simply loves being here. This library is so wonderful and will be a tough act to follow for the library to which we next move. She says she'd like to be a library volunteer when she gets old enough.
(Yes, that is the noise of hail hitting Matt's car. The windows were left intact, but the dents to the roof, hood and trunk caused significant damage. He was in Denver with the girls at this time, with the other car. The hail came on so fast there was no time to rescue the car without risking a concussion.)
When we do eventually leave here, this is perhaps the one thing (not counting the house) I will miss the most. Cool mornings made for sitting on the porch with a mug of coffee and a good book, dinner with friends on the front porch, a breeze that keeps mosquitos at bay, barely any humidity, dramatic stormy skies in the afternoons, lots of tall cottonwoods that make the best music when the wind blows, and a perfect environment for Sophie and Molly to be out in the fresh air.
And they take advantage, too! Because there are so many kids along our row of houses, there's almost always someone to play with outside. Molly will run in for a popsicle and then run right back out again because she and her friends are busy creating some pretend situation involving dogs and a magic forest and a store of some kind. (Knowing Molly, it's probably a candy store.) Sophie and her friend Josie have been working on making a fort and campsite (be still my heart) in a little cluster of trees behind the houses, they're always looking for trees to climb, and they even take their younger siblings on bike trips to nearby playgrounds.
I guess this is what summers are supposed to be for. There is such concern about kids being addicted to their electronics that they don't get outside and play anymore, and they won't have that experience we had as kids, when we could go outside unchecked until after dark, playing shadow tag and catching fireflies. Now, we don't have fireflies here, and I do check on my kids. But they, and lots of other kids who live on this base, play outside because they want to, because it's fun. And when we call them to say it's time to come in, we get the plaintive "Awwww!" So there's a shimmer of hope in this crazy high-tech world: trees are still fun to climb, and forts are still fun to build.
We knew it would only take a few tries, once she decided she wanted to learn. The impetus? Her neighborhood friends can all ride without training wheels, and she was starting to feel like the odd kid out. She's riding like a champ now - she can even push herself off when starting her ride. We're proud of and excited for her.
(If after you watch the video of Molly, other video links come up, just hit the replay circle or drag the progress bar back to the beginning. It's pretty annoying, YouTube will find a way to advertise even here!!)
Last month, our good friend Claude and his dog Tiffany moved across the country. It won't be the same here without them. Claude and Matt worked together in a previous life; their common background in the combat rescue world (Claude was a combat controller) and pre-established friendship made the transition to this part of the Air Force much easier. The girls bonded with Claude and Tiffany instantly, and he's been almost like an uncle to them here. We would take care of Tiffany when Claude was out of town, and even had the honor to help take care of Claude when some medical issues came up. Claude would make pancakes and bacon for dinner with the girls on nights when Matt and I went on dates. He also joined us at Trick or Treat time, passing out candy and allowing Matt and me to take the girls out together. Two years in the same place is a long time when you're in the military, and we really are glad we got that time with Claude and Tiffa. He's with his family now, so we're happy for him and hope his new job and house are what he'd been hoping they'd be.
These pictures were taken the night before they left. The lighting makes it hard to see but we'll remember just fine.
They look so serious! This was the only picture that wasn't blurry. Really... they DO like each other!
This was the official kick-off of Cheyenne Frontier Days: the cattle drive. Over a hundred steer which have been located on prairie north of Cheyenne needed to be driven into town for all the rodeo and roping activities. It's quite a spectacle and local event to see cowboys driving these bulls down the frontage road of I-25 a few miles. We got to ride in a haywagon in front of the cattle, as part of a procession of carriages, wagons, and horseback riders. But first we went to a chuck-wagon breakfast.... at 6:15 in the morning! More to come.
It's been a sad two days for the whole family. Yesterday morning, we heard workers up in one of the trees on the side of our house. At first I thought they were just trimming some dead branches, as they frequently do. But then I saw all the equipment they brought with them, including one of those huge tree chippers. When I asked if the whole tree was coming down, they said "yes" and I could scarcely believe it. It looks perfectly happy and healthy to me. As it turns out, there were some dead limbs that threatened to fall on our house and car, and the large cottonwood next to it was stealing its sunlight, and the powers that be decided it needed to come down.
I love the trees around here. I can look out my kitchen window in the summer time and see mostly the green of the leaves. I love listening to wind in the leaves. I love the shadows they make on the ground. And it is very sad, for all of us, to watch one of these huge trees come down.
Here is the old view from my kitchen window. Really pretty in all seasons.
This is Sophie taking in one last night of having the tree right outside her bedroom window. The workers had stopped for the day, and it gave us a chance to say goodbye. This tree has made Sophie's room feel a little like a treehouse, not to mention the shade it gives and how it helps her room stay cool in a house without air conditioning.
When the workers started cutting down the thickest limbs, each piece crashed to the ground so hard that it shook the walls of the house. The size of this thing and sheer weight of the limbs is amazing.