I picked up Katie and M and the boys to work on the yard prior to the birthday bbq (easy child and Oliver's) this evening. Plans were for Sat but it decided to rain. They were so eager they were standing outside waiting on me. LOL M may not have formal education (I found out today exactly why he can't read) but I learned today that due to trying to scratch out a living for his family and life experiences, the man has a wealth of knowledge in a vast amount of areas. He has been impressing me quite a LOT lately. I know I have never seen someone so eager to do my yard work before, especially after a couple weeks of rain and no attention had it in such bad shape. He enlisted to very eager little boys help as well. Travis also helped him. They tackled the back yard at first.......which because of those darn elephant ear plants has to be either done with a swing blade or weed eater first is a royal pain. He didn't complain. As he finished cutting down an area, he had Alex mowing it with the non gas powered mower he was thrilled to find in my shed. Alex felt very "manly" today. Did a good job too. The four of them tackled the weed (many that had turned in to small trees) along the privacy fence on the alley. Then they moved to the front yard..........and that horrid spot on the eastern side of the house that has not been touched in possibly 5-6 yrs. I told M he could save that spot for another day because it was not going to be easy. Nope. They hacked away at vines, chopped down small maple trees, ripped out weeds.........amazing. Not one complaint. Actually, he literally was thrilled to death to do it. Turns out he loves yard work. Meanwhile, Katie came over under the impression she was going to help me inside. But the garden was in sad horrible shape with weeds taller than plants and I knew if I didn't get to it......it would be a wasted effort this year. So into the garden we went. Discovered my flattened tomato plants are much hardier than I gave them credit for as they've grown all over the darn place. Harvested some normal tomatoes, roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Weeded out the carrots. Found the cucumbers were flourishing and several ready to harvest. Green beans were more than ready and we got a half bushel. We got all the other weeds out. My broccoli and cauliflower......phht. I think the weather confused them, they grew totally weird. Cabbages and brussel sprouts not yet ready. Collards doing wonderfully. In short, Katie worked her tail off in the sun and in the wet dirt. I have NEVER seen her do either. She was asking me question after question. I showed her what the plants look like, how to tell when they are ready, how to properly pull weeds........all sorts of things. Showed Evan too as he came in to help with weeds. Turns out she wants to try a container garden next year. Holy cow! Not one word of complaint out of her. She made no move to sit down unless I did. (and I'm used to working both outside and on my feet for 10 hrs so you can imagine how often that was lol ) My grandsons, Alex and Evan have literally begged to come back every week to do my yard. They were eating it up, the being outside, the yard work, learning about the plants, helping their dad with "manly" stuff.......rolling around on the ground, playing fetch and soccer with the dogs.......just being at nana's house....... Made my heart ache, lemme tell you. In 4 hrs my yard was perfect. (I'm sure my neighbors are much pleased lol ) It was time for the bbq. Oliver turned 2 today and easy child turns 29 on tues. Nichole baked the cake. Hot dogs and brauts on the grill. Kayla returned from her week visit with aunt Nichole just as sweet as she could possibly be. Family was amazed at the yard..........I of course gave credit to whom it was due. M participated in conversation!! Ok, so it drifted off to video games......but that is HUGE.........and he did still sit apart......but he'll put his seat closer in time. After the bbq we swapped produce. Since I go back to work tomorrow I didn't have time to can the beans so Nichole took them home to can and will bring them back......she brought kale and romain lettuce and tomatoes we didn't wind up needing lol Once everyone had left it was time to shop Nana's pantry. Now people my stores are so vast that only Nichole, easy child and Travis have actually seen most of them. Travis is the only one who has seen ALL of them but that is because he helps me all the time. Katie had seen some, but not all. M had never seen them and I don't think the kids had either. Only way I knew how to go about it was to have Katie tell me what she needed while I got it for her. I have rubbermaid tubs full of personal hygiene items, first aide items, and medicine. I heard Kayla gasp when I opened the tub that had razors, deodorant, and body soap. That of course brought over M and the boys. Katie chose that moment to explain THIS is what I'm trying to teach her to do and if they keep trying to use it as fast as she brings it into the house they won't be able to get to that point. The food had them spell bound, no joke. I gave them shampoo, conditioner (Kayla has her papa's hair it requires conditioner) deodorant, shave cream, body wash, toilet paper, and bandaides. I gave them macaroni noodles, egg noodles, several varieties of boxed potatoes, velveeta, ramen, cereal, ravioli, macaroni and beef, canned mac & cheese, and then I dug into the deep freeze and gave them hamburger, a beef roast, whole chicken, and a pork roast. I gave them powdered milk because Alex's face lit up when he saw it. I had convince Katie to buy it the last 2 trips to aldi in case she came up short at the end of the month and ran out of milk. She obviously used it all.........Alex's loves it. It worries a Nana when her grandson gets excited over powdered milk and the other grandson gives her kisses and hugs for 2 extra cans of macaroni and beef. Katie's cards don't load (disability and food stamps) until the 3rd. Turns out biomom is sabotaging her food wise in a huge way. I gave them peanut butter, asked about jelly. She said she just bought jelly. Boys said no grandma was eating it with a spoon and it was gone. omg So I gave them jelly, crackers, and soups for biomom to eat because she had her teeth pulled in prep for dentures. I'm going to have to have a talk with her over biomom it seems. Katie has gotten the kids under control over the food now. But biomom is sneaking weird things to eat.......and cleaning them out. (I recall Fred telling me of such odd eating habits over the years) M got a pack of cheap cigarettes. They walked out of my house carrying what would have been 2 weeks worth of food from kroger when all was said and done. (including fresh veggies from the garden) Didn't bother me to give it to them. They worked hard all day without complaint. They had no idea of the reward they'd get. They had done it to help me was the only reason. They all have asked to come and help again asap. M wants to tackle the gutters for me. Katie still wants to help in the house. M would like to do my yard work once a week. I know it's not because they expect to shop in my pantry. That was only because they were in desperate need. I will say they took all that food out and you can't tell it in my stores. LOL And they've yet to see ALL of it, just quite a lot of it. Also M says I have the sander needed for the dining room floor. He used to do floors with his grandpa, plus he worked for a year in a woodworking shop. Soooooooo I got someone to do my floor and the equipment to do it. Fred had 2 of those sanders. lol (he had 2 or 3 of most everything, don't ask) M has been having people send him wood projects from online, old pieces of wood furniture (small obviously). He refinishes them and sends them back for a fee. He loves it. I had not yet had a chance to suggest it and was impressed he thought of it himself. Both are going to work on getting their driver's licenses. I'm picking up the book this week when I take Travis to get his ID renewed. M can take the written exam by the computer voice program. Neither know it, but once they study the book they might be surprised to find their permit fees paid for so she can work with them on driving as I know Katie's skills are rusty and I suspect M has possibly driven illegally in the past........ This is because I've really been working with Katie over the needing to get a job thing and applying to the factory. I'm using everything from guilt/shame to material motivation. lol It seems to be working. She is getting her teeth worked on in hopes of getting rid of the migraines. From what Nichole said the dentist had to say.....it is small wonder she is miserable. Once that is done she is applying. ( I may have to ask another favor ) M may get called this week for a 2nd interview with the pizza place.......and *might* get hired at the bowling alley. He was trying to decide which one to take. I told him if he can get them to make schedules so they don't conflict, why not take both if offered? More hours, more money. He was amazed, it didn't occur to him. lol Anyhoo..........once they are working and have their license.........sister in law who fixes cars to sell (and I mean honestly fixes them and sells them reasonably) can find them a good car once they save their money up. They are both so tired of having to mooch rides they can't stand it. I'm seeing REAL adult goals. Goals they came up with themselves. Jobs, driver license, learning to read, getting a GED, saving for a car, then saving for a HUD house (takes years anyway which they know) of their own where they can have their own garden and such. Far cry from when they arrived when the only real goal was for M to get a new computer to play video games. It has been a long haul with these two but the changes are just so drastic and they just keep right on happening. I have never seen Kayla, Alex, and Evan happier.....and they are learning right along with their parents.