Tuesday turned out to be a lot like Monday, except this time I taught Ryan how to make Western omelets because I knew the boys all liked them.I also showed him how to use canned potatoes to make home fries to go with it, and then he made enough for all of us to have breakfast together.
As soon as we finished eating, the boys cleaned up the kitchen. Elliot, Ian, and Ryan headed out to work on the tree house again.While they were doing that, I decided to take Dobby and Flash for a long walk and could immediately tell they were both enjoying this little foray.
The neighbors who were outside either said hello or waved at us as we passed by, while their children hurried out to greet us so they could pet and play with the puppies.Dobby and Flash loved the attention and their tails were wagging the entire time, but eventually I had to explain that we needed to get going.I just hope the boys will continue taking the dogs for long walks when they get back from Texas, in addition to taking them outside to do their business. Dobby and Flash need to get out of the house and get some exercise after being cooped up indoors all day long, especially once school begins again.
When I brought the puppies inside, I made sure their water bowls were full first, before I went upstairs and started cleaning the bathrooms on the second and third floors.When I finished with those, I went downstairs and cleaned Dad and Pop’s bathroom next.I did this because we all used their bathroom when we had to urinate during the day, rather than running upstairs, and some of the younger boys didn’t always display the greatest aim.
When I finished with the last bathroom, I washed my hands and took a break while I waited for the boys to come in for lunch.Since I knew they’d be hungry, I preheated the oven for Ryan, and after he cleaned up I had him put enough French fries on the cookie sheet for all of us, including Owen, since he was here as well.Once he’d placed that in the oven, I watched over him as he took out a large pan and used it to make a hamburger for each of us.When I noticed him starting to press on the top of one of the hamburgers with the slotted spatula to squeeze out the juice, I stopped him.
“Don’t do that.It causes the hamburgers to turn out really dry.”
“So, doin’ it is bad?”
“Yes, if you want a juicy hamburger instead of one that’s like a thick piece of shoe leather.”
When he finished and had drained the grease out of the pan, we all sat down to eat.
“I didn’t know you could cook,” Owen told Ryan, “but this is really good.”
“Yeah, Uncle Trey has been teaching me how to do some stuff for when I’m on my own.”
“Maybe I should have my mom do that for me too.”
“Well, since you’re often here, you’re welcome to join Ryan and me in addition to learning from your mother,” I offered.
“K, I can probably do that too.”
As we were eating, I asked a question.
“So how’s it going with the tree house?”
“It’s comin’ along really good,” answered Ryan.
“Yes, it is and we finished putting the first coat of water sealant on the tree house.While it’s drying, we’re gonna work on the other area next.”
“What other area?”
“Pop and his friend put up another frame in a nearby group of trees to make a deck for the boys to play on.They also placed two logs from there to the tree house so there will be a bridge connecting the two areas, and now we just have to put the decking on both places.”
“It sounds like this is turning out to be quite an elaborate project.”
“Yeah, it is, but I’m sure my younger brothers and little cousin will enjoy playing there.”
“Yes, I’m sure they will.”
Once the boys finished eating, they helped clean up before they went back outside to work on the tree house again.I was a little surprised when I heard them in the rec room a few minutes later, but I figured they’d probably decided to take a short break first, before going back outside to work on the tree house.I didn’t dwell upon that thought for very long, though, and went about my day.
When I called them in later so they could clean up before the others arrived home for dinner, I stopped Elliot to ask him a question before he went to wash up.
“Why did I hear you boys in the rec room after lunch?”
“We had to get set up for what we were going to do today and I had to run a bunch of extension cords from the house out to the tree house so we could use the circular saw.After that we started to measure and cut the wood before we could nail it in place, and that took a long time because my dad taught me to measure twice and cut once to avoid mistakes.”
“That’s a good rule, and I wondered what you were doing when I heard you back there earlier.”
“All the extension cords were stored in the rec room closet, so we had to get a bunch of them to use.I’m glad we found three rather long heavy-duty extension cords for that purpose and I plugged the first one into the socket near the window and then tossed it outside.After that we hooked the other extension cords together once we’d unrolled each one as far as it would go.After that was taken care of, we were able to use the circular saw to cut the wood.”
“Those must be the extension cords that your grandfather uses outside at Christmas.Just be careful when you’re using the circular saw, though, because I don’t want to have to drive anyone to the emergency room.”
“Don’t worry, I’m the only one who will be using it and I’ll be very careful.I’m not sure how much we’ll get done by the time Grandpa Jake gets home, but we should finish up with the bridge by then.We have to get at least that much done, because Grandpa Jake said he’s going to put the handrails on the bridge tonight and he won’t be able to do that if he can’t stand on the bridge to work.We’ll start working on the other area either later today or tomorrow, but it depends on if Grandpa Jake needs us to give him a hand with the handrails, but we’ll do as much as we can.”
“Wait a second.I don’t understand how you’re making a bridge if you just have two logs.That’s not wide enough to walk across.”
“Those are just the supports, and he fastened one end of the logs near where the deck will be and the other end near the tree house.They’re a little over a yard (1m) apart and we just need to add the boards so we can walk across it.We’ll start at one end and nail the boards that I cut earlier into place across the two logs for us to walk on. I’ll leave a slight gap between the boards when I nail them into place, but it won’t be very wide because it’s mainly just so the water can drain off the bridge when it rains or when the snow melts.I’ve already cut a bunch of the boards we’ll need, and Ryan and Owen can hand them to me one at a time while Ian hands me the nails.”
“You sound very organized.”
“Yeah, I learned that from you guys.”
“It sounds as if this is going to be even more work than I thought it was going to be.Do you think you’ll be able to finish up before the boys get back?”
“Yeah, we should be done by then.We’ll finish putting the boards on the bridge and Grandpa Jake will put the handrails up after we finish eating.We should be able to do the deck in a day or day-and-a-half, and then we’ll just have to put the water sealant on that area and the bridge.Ryan or Owen can start adding the second coat of water sealant to the tree house tomorrow, because Grandpa Jake said the first coat should dry in 24 hours, and then they can put the first coat on the bridge.While they’re doing that, I’ll have Ian help me cut the boards for the deck and put them down so I can nail them into place.”
“It sounds like you’ve got everything under control.” He merely smiled and nodded after hearing my final comment.
As soon as the others arrived home, we had dinner together and then Pop, Elliot, Ian, and Ryan went out to work on the tree house.While they were gone, I did a few other things before Danny got home, and then I sat down to chat with him after I put his food on the table.
“Did you have a rough day?”
“Not rough, just long.I keep thinking of more things I need to do, in addition to the list of items I made the day before, and that doesn’t include taking care of my patients.”
“Will it get any easier?”
“Yes, if we’re approved to do this again next year, because by then we’ll have worked out all of the kinks and it should go a lot smoother.”
“How about before then?”
“It should calm down a little by the time the kids return to school, unless something we haven’t planned on pops up.”
“I hope that doesn’t happen then and things get better for you.”
Our conversation ended when my cell phone rang and we heard Wyatt greet both of us when I put it on speaker.
“So, what did you do today?” I asked.
“We went to see a big building.”
“It was really old,” said Hunter.
“Yeah, really old,” confirmed Hayden.“They said it was built right after the Civil War.”
“We went to the TexasCapitalBuilding and it was built in the 1880s,” followed Benny.
“And it has a dome, just like the CapitolBuilding in WashingtonD.C.,” said Revin.
“And they said it’s taller than the one in Washington,” added Tristan.
“It’s nice, but I think the dome in D.C. is nicer,” said Joshie.
“So, was that all you did?” asked Danny.
“No, we went swimmin’ after that,” shouted the twins simultaneously.
“Where did you do that?” I followed.
“We went back to the same place as yesterday,” said Tristan.
“Wait, I thought you needed a reservation in order to go there?”
“We did,” confirmed Brandon, “but since my parents weren’t sure which day we would be there they made a reservation for both days.”
“That worked out well then,” said Danny.
“Yeah, it did,” replied Revin.
“And it was really fun,” said Wyatt.
“So, did you go skinny-dipping this time?” teased Danny.
“You know we can’t do that,” said a disgusted Benny.
“I woulda liked to, though,” said Joshie.
“I’m sure you would have.You like showing off that big piece of meat between your legs, just like your daddy,” I responded.
“Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” said Dion.
“Maybe we should ask Grandpa Josh to arrange for us to go back to one of those nudist camps again,” joked Danny.
“Are they just for boys?” asked Revin.
“No, there are both girls and boys at those places,” I replied.
“Ewww, I don’t wanna do that then,” screeched the twins in unison.
“Me neither,” added Revin.“I don’t want any girls seein’ me naked.”
“It’s not as bad as you think,” said Joshie.
“I don’t care.I don’t wanna do it either,” said Tristan.
“Ok, we can talk about this another time,” said a laughing Danny, bringing the conversation to an end.“So, what’s on your calendar for tomorrow?”
“We’re driving to San Antonio in the morning,” answered Brandon, “and we’ll be there for a couple of days.”
“What day are you flying back?” asked Danny.
“That would be Saturday.That way I’ll have Sunday to rest up and get my things ready to go to work on Monday.”
“Ok, I’m looking forward to seeing you then.”
After we said goodbye to the boys, Brandon took his phone off speaker and the four of us split the conversation time from that point on.When we finished, I put my phone away while Danny headed upstairs to get ready for bed.Pop and the boys came inside shortly after the call ended, and they all looked very tired.
“How are things going?” I asked Pop.
“They’re doing a great job and it should be finished by the time the others get back from Texas.”
“That sounds great.”
“And we helped Grandpa Jake put the handrails on the bridge, so that’s all done and it looks really neat,” stated Ryan.
“I’ll have to walk out there and check it out.”
I was just about to take the dogs outside for the final time when Noah came up and asked if we could talk.
“Why don’t you go outside with the dogs and me and we can talk.”
“Sure, I can do that.”
He followed me out the front door, and while the puppies were sniffing for a place to do their business, I turned to him and spoke.
“So, what’s up?”
“This mornin’ while we were ridin’ to work, I asked Holly if she had a boyfriend.She said she really liked a guy that she’d met at college, but he wasn’t exactly her boyfriend, and then she admitted that he was the one who’d been calling her every night.”
“That certainly sounds like a boyfriend to me.”
“Yeah, me too, and she also admitted that they’d also been texting.”
“At least now you know for sure what you’re up against and where you stand with her.”
“Yeah, I know, and she said he even called when she was in her hotel room over the weekend, so Brittany asked her about him too.”
“Yes, I imagine she would.Girls like to talk about those sorts of things.”
“Guys do too,” stated Noah.
“That’s true, but not in quite the same way.Girls seem to emphasize the romantic aspect, while boys are mostly focused on the physical side, including sex.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
While Noah and I had been chatting, the puppies had a lot longer than usual to do their duty, so they’d begun to wander around and jump on each other while they waited.Unfortunately, Dobby must have either jumped into or landed on a pile of poop, and Flash had gotten some of it on her as well.I went inside and grabbed a roll of paper towels and cleaned them off as best I could, and then I took them up to the bathroom and gave both a bath before I took my shower.I was lucky they didn’t mind doing this and didn’t give me a problem, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle.As soon as we were all clean, we went to my bedroom and turned in for the night.
Before I fell asleep, I suddenly realized something.Shortly after the others had gone on their trip, those of us who’d remained at home had begun to fall into a routine, of sorts.During the day, at least prior to this week, I’d teach Ryan something new to fix for breakfast, and then he and Owen would take turns spending the day here or at Owen’s grandparents’ house.The same was also true of Elliot and Ian, and now the only difference was that they were spending each day working on the tree house instead, which was merely a slightly different routine.I, on the other hand, spent each day doing various household chores, as well as taking care of Dobby and Flash.
This is how it started out on Wednesday as well, and today I decided to teach Ryan how to make French toast.I also had him fry up some sausages and hash browns to go with it, and then we all sat down to eat.During the meal I noticed the sky was slightly overcast and appeared as if it might rain.
“Do you think you’ll be able to work on the tree house today?It appears that it might rain.”
“We’ll do it for as long as we can,” replied Elliot with the others agreeing with him.
The rain held off throughout the morning and the boys were able to work on the tree house during that time, and then they came in for lunch.Today I taught Ryan how to make grilled cheese sandwiches, or grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, if that was preferred, as well as heating up a large pan of chicken noodle soup.
As we were eating, all hell broke loose.It started off with a bright flash of light that lit up the interior of the house, followed by a loud clap of thunder, and it was followed by a repeat of both of those phenomena a short time later.Dobby and Flash came running into the dining room for reassurance, and Elliot and Ian each picked up a pup and cradled them to calm their nerves.
“I hope you got a lot done this morning, because it looks as if you won’t be working on the tree house this afternoon.I don’t want you in the tree or using the aluminum ladder or circular saw in this storm, since any of those things could attract a lightning strike.”
“Yeah, we figured that out,” replied Elliot.“Ryan and Owen finished water sealing the bridge earlier, and Ian and I put down some of the boards on the deck, but we didn’t finish it.Do you think this storm is going to last all afternoon?”
“I’m not sure, but everything will still be very wet and I don’t think you should be using the electric tools until things dry up.It will be too wet for you to add the water sealant as well, so it looks as if you have the afternoon off.”
“Ok, I just hope we can still get this done in time then,” he added as he and the others finished eating.Once they were done, they all took off to find something else to do.
After cleaning up from lunch, I didn’t see the boys again until I called them for dinner, and while the family was chowing down, Pop asked them a question.“How much did you get done today?”
Elliot told him the same thing he told me earlier, and then he added something else. “We were planning on doing more after lunch, but the thunderstorm kind of messed that up.”
“That’s ok.You can pick up where you left off tomorrow. I’ll also help out when I get home.”
After their discussion ended, we chatted about other things while we finished eating.If you hadn’t noticed, the rest of us had pretty much fallen into a routine after dinner as well.As soon as we finished eating, Holly and I would clear off the table and do the dishes, and then Danny would show up shortly thereafter.I’d heat something for him to eat while he was washing up, and then we’d receive a call from the group in Texas while he was eating or just after he finished up.This, however, would only be happening for a few more days, since the group in Texas would be returning home soon.
Danny was just about done with his meal when my phone rang, so I answered it and said hello.
“Hi, Poppy and Uncle Danny,” Wyatt greeted us, and then we heard the others chime in from the background.
“So what did you guys do today?” asked Danny.
“We spent a long time ridin’ in the SUV with Grandma Brenda and Grandpa Pat,” answered Wyatt.
“Yes, that part was borin’,” said the twins simultaneously.
“But it didn’t take all day and we got here before lunch,” followed Benny.
“And now we’re in San Antonio,” said Joshie.
“Yeah, and we walked the river,” said Revin.
“What he means is that we did the San Antonio River Walk,” corrected Dion.
“And we walked a long way,” said Tristan.
“Yes, we did,” confirmed Brandon.“The city built a walkway all along the San AntonioRiver, although it’s pretty narrow in some locations.”
“And we got to see a mama duck swimmin’ in the river with her babies,” said Hayden.
“Yeah, and we was worried that the boats were gonna run over them,” continued Hunter.
“That’s cuz there were lots of boats goin’ up and down the river and we got to ride on one of them too,” said Revin.
“And the ducks were smart enough to get out of the boats’ way,” stated Tristan.
“And the boat ride was kinda interestin’ too, cuz there was lots to see,” said Benny.
“Yep, there were lots of people, stores, and hotels beside the river, and a bunch of bars too,” added Joshie.“We ate lunch in one of them.”
“You took the boys to a bar for lunch?” asked Danny.
“It was actually a cozy restaurant that served drinks at a small bar, but it wasn’t exactly a sleazy hole-in-the-wall dive,” responded Brandon.
“And we heard lots of music as we walked along the river too,” said Hunter.
“Yeah, one group played guitars, violins, and trumpets while they sang songs in Spanish,” continued Hayden.
“It was a Mariachi band,” said Joshie.
“And there was another group dressed up in old time army uniforms and they played drums,” added Tristan.
“And there was probably a dozen guys playin’ the drums,” said Revin.“They was really good too.”
“There were only nine drummers, because I counted them,” corrected Brandon.
“The River Walk was still a very interesting adventure,” added Dion, “and there were artificial waterfalls at various points along the way.”
“Yeah, those were pretty neat,” chorused the twins and Wyatt.He had been hanging around the twins so often that they were beginning to think and sound alike.
“And there was one place where we could see the Alamo on the other side of the river,” said Joshie.
“Did you go and visit it later?” asked Danny.
“No, we’re doing that tomorrow,” replied Brandon.
“That’s good and I hope you all have a great time there.”
Danny and I got to chat with our spouses before the call ended, and besides exchanging our love for one another, we also clarified a few things.Brandon and Dion stated that even though some of the boys thought the long rides in the SUV between the various destinations were boring, they still seemed to be having a very good time.I was glad to hear that, because I felt it meant the boys wouldn’t be complaining or causing problems for the adults.
Once the call ended, I went to the family room and watched a movie with Ryan, Elliot, and Ian while Danny went upstairs to get ready for bed.I wasn’t sure what Noah and Holly were doing, but obviously they weren’t interested in joining us.
I’d missed the first part of the movie, but it didn’t seem to matter, because I caught on to the gist of what was happening quite quickly.The boys, on the other hand, were merely focused on the various car chases, fistfights, and gun battles, because it was another action flick, with an emphasis on ‘action’.When the movie ended, I took the dogs outside quickly before heading upstairs to get ready for bed.