Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Got the babies all tucked in.

Last year we had frost on May 27.

The weather man tells me we're gonna' get some frost tonight ... or in the morning, I guess. May 31.

**EXPLETIVE!**

So ... I rounded up a bunch of blankets and sheets and Rachel helped me get everything covered.



I have learned it is much easier to do this when it's still light out and isn't already freezing cold out there.

Sleep tight, babies!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chasing butterflies.

Despite her best efforts, Rachel could not get a single butterfly to land on her finger last night. She was disappointed, but I had fun watching her try.


And I managed to get one good picture of this beauty. They sure don't stay still for very long ... but they are fascinating to observe.

Friday, May 25, 2012

BUSY! And some garden photos - woohoo!

We have been so busy. Crazy busy. And while I do try to take a few minutes here and there to enjoy some quiet time for myself, the world doesn't stop just because I am wicked tired.

So, what have we been up to? Let's see. Steve has been working his tail off within the high-security walls of the Marathon oil refinery in Detroit. I don't pretend to understand everything he does. He is responsible for making sure certain contractors do everything by the book and according to the customer's specs and safety guidelines. He has the perfect mix of patience and assertiveness to be a pipeline inspector. I? Would not. I have the "people person" part down, but the patience ... not so much. So mostly I pray for my husband's safety, be supportive when he needs to vent frustrations to me, and try to keep things at a dull roar at home so Steve can focus on his job.

This week was a toughie as far as that "dull roar" thing was concerned. I was unavailable to answer my phone at the moment Sam's school principal called to tell me about some trouble our boy had gotten into at school, so daddy ended up getting that call at work. Hey, it's all part of being a parent, and Steve is great about that, too. I can't be two places at once or available to everybody at all times. But I was sorry Steve had to deal with the initial impact. In the end it was a bit of a hiccup in everyone's day, but you'll have that sometimes.

Sam, I think, will be the happiest kid on the planet when school is done for the year. He has little motivation for school work to begin with, and even less when he makes a poor choice (nothing malicious, just a "bone-headed" thing to do, as I like to say) and it results in revoked privileges and more chores at home. He does have a fire in his gut for other stuff, and will stay up late at night to work on something he loves. And he's been incredibly helpful to me as I've worked on creating new garden spaces at home.

Here he is filling our new raised beds with fresh black dirt. Over the past few weeks we have shoveled and shoveled and raked and shoveled some more.

And he even planted a few of his own plants:
This is one of two pots Sam planted - this one's habanero peppers and he also has cayenne peppers. 

Now what in God's name do you think we're going to do with all those peppers?! I sure ain't eatin' 'em. But hey, caring for some plants and watching them bear fruit is a simple thing that brings him joy. It's all good. (And I do believe he will eat them. He's into this "the hotter the better" kick.)

Rachel has been busy - and has kept me busy - with a little bit of everything. She was so excited for her track and field day at school this week that she was up early that day and crawled into bed with me to wake me up. She had a bag all packed with her lunch, sunscreen, a blanket to sit on, snacks and extra water. I had a chance to stop by the track as I went from one commitment to the next, and I was so glad I did. I watched her win on the last leg of a relay, then watched her take 2nd place in a sprint. She came home with five or six ribbons that day. We might have a runner on our hands!

Rachel has also been helping me in any way she can with my gardens. When we finally started planting I dug up my clump of chives from one garden (which I have given to Rachel to grow flowers for a little cut-flower business she wants to start) and moved them to the new raised veggie beds. Rach had to take a picture of the roots ... I think they're pretty healthy.

To the left there, behind the chives, you can see Kevin. Kevin is a blinged-out garden ornament bird Rachel got me for Mother's Day. She named him after the bird from the movie "Up." Kevin's pretty cool.

I have been gardening a lot. I have built garden boxes, shoveled/loaded/unloaded sand and soil, hauled brick pavers, hoisted and dumped bags of pea stone, built a chicken wire cover to keep the cats out of the garden beds (Oh look!! Giant litter boxes!), and finally got to do some planting. All of that I have done in my spare time when I wasn't picking asparagus for the neighbors, babysitting for another neighbor, tending to my own children, preparing for a trip to Washington, DC with Rachel and about 200,000 other Girl Scouts (have I mentioned that?), nurturing relationships with family and friends, and taking care of all the "regular" household tasks a mama takes care of. It's no wonder I'm tired!

But I do so love these gardens. Last night after the kids had gone to bed I sat on the patio with just the glow of some solar lights, the cool breeze, listening to frogs croaking and crickets chirping ... and I watched the stars appear. I just sat there in the shadows of all this hard work we've been putting in. How often do we take the time to just sit? To just ... be?

I kicked back in that cheap plastic Adirondack chair and thought how nice it would be to have a chaise lounger for the patio. And then I started to think about upgrading the cafe table we have to a nicer set that could seat our whole family ... and more potted plants ... more color ... and a fire pit ... and, and, and ... and I had to stop myself. Reign in it, just like I tell my kids to do. I did, and then I was able to appreciate my surroundings even more. I was able to focus on that feeling of joy, that smile I always smile when I get home after a busy day and see butterflies floating and bumblebees buzzing around the plants scattered all over the yard - and wow, there has been an abundance of all kinds of flying creatures this year. My goal is to enjoy them ... to enjoy the peace they bring me, and savor the joy I feel when I am tinkering in my gardens. And when the light of the day fades, to just sit and know that no matter what happened during the day, tomorrow will dawn bright and new.

Oh! Here are the pictures I promised ...





Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ppppbbbbbbffffbfbbfbbbfb.

How exactly does one write out the sound of flopping into a chair and exhaling noisily? It's kinda' like the sound a little boy makes when he's playing with cars. (How is it little boys inherently know how to make the perfect car and truck noises anyway? I've always wondered.)

Or how about the groan that follows the sigh of frustration. "Uuuuuuugh."

I'm. So. Tired.

Tired of dealing with the same old crap. Tired of hoping maybe this time it will be better, and then being let down. Again. Tired of hearing the empty promises of "I know. I'm going to do better." And then not seeing any follow-through. I need less talk and more action.

"This, too, shall pass," you say? I dunno. I will never stop being a mama. And until I (we, me and Steve) get them to adulthood safe and sound and send them out on their own, the daily activities - good and bad - of our children affect how our family operates.

Today our son makes me tired. I'm emotionally exhausted and physically spent. Yes, it will get better. He did not trigger the end of the world; the sun came up this morning. But when you want the best for your children (and what parent doesn't?) and you see them making less-than-stellar choices, you have to wonder what is going on in that child's head. Peeling back the layers and getting to the bottom of things is ... tiring. Discipline ... tiring. Keeping hands and minds from being idle ... tiring. Praying with conviction ... pleading, almost ... tiring. Even encouragement and praise ... at times, exhausting.

But I have strong coffee, sunshine, and a quiet garden. And at the moment, a peaceful house - my own little oasis. Today I may be tired but I am fighting the good fight. I am strong in the promise that it will indeed get better.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Time for a little dusting.

Holy smokes. Y'all? We got some MUCH needed rain last night. And now the layer of dust on everything in my house is doubly obvious to me.

You know, more obvious in the sense that I can't look at it today and say, "oh well, no sense in clearing that away because it will just be dusty again in five minutes."

So here I am, to-do list in hand, kids off to school, myself all properly caffeinated and in comfy clothes and hair whispies pulled back in one of those best-inventions-ever (if it would actually stay on my head) stretchy bands ... I got Pandora streaming through my TV and windows cracked open - because people? It was 82 degrees in my bedroom when I went to bed last night. I am not kidding! And I couldn't really keep the windows open because it was raining as I fell asleep.

It's all good though, because we're having air-conditioning installed in the house this week. Praise Jesus! We have always been fortunate to have a window AC unit that cooled the house nicely in the summer, but I hated how it blocked a window in the front of the house all summer long. And that I had to call on someone to help me put it in. And take it out. And last year I actually had some duct tape around the edges to seal it around the window on the inside. Now, I do love me some duct tape, but that was pretty ghetto.

So in a few days I'm gonna feel like a princess. I might not leave the house for a while.

But today? Cinderella. Time for me to get started.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Catching up ...

Ha! Oops. I had a Clean Slate Sunday post started to tell y'all what a nice day I had and to wish all the mamas out there a happy Mother's Day, but I never got it finished or posted.

I think I went to bed early Sunday night. I know I went to bed early last night. Something about all the fresh air I've been getting, and all the manual labor - between gardening and tinkering around the yard at home and picking asparagus with the neighbors - my days have been full and I've been lucky to get the kids tucked in before I fall asleep myself.

But I did have a nice Mother's Day. And I hope all the moms, grandmas, aunts, and honorary mamas and caregivers out there did, too. Today, as my gift to my mom, I took her to lunch and then we went and got pedicures. It was a fun afternoon. It was also my first professional pedicure, and danged if I didn't smudge it by the time I got home. Pfft! But it was so worth it. I may never paint my own toenails again.

Bright toes ... flowers in bloom ... butterflies flitting around the yard all day ... summer is definitely on the way. I'm ready. This morning I sat outside, soaked up some sun and chatted for a couple hours with a dear friend. This afternoon Rachel helped me plant green beans (her favorite!) in the garden. The sky is starting to rumble ... rain is on it's way. These are the days I love.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's our anniversary!

He sent me roses! *swoon*

Fourteen years ago today it was much warmer outside.

It got so warm, in fact, that the white tulips in my bouquet opened so wide they didn't look like tulips anymore.

I didn't care. I was gettin' married.

Steve and I had our first date in June of '93 ... so altogether 19 years we've been together. It's funny now to think about how long we dated before he proposed to me. Five years felt like eternity! And now here we are.

So how have we lasted this long?

Off the top of my head ... love beyond measure. Forgiveness. Grace. Laughter. Trust. Encouragement. Leaning on God and each other.

And Steve's favorite: COMMUNICATION! *wink*

Marriage is awesome. Sometimes it's more work than it seems like it should be, but that's ok. Every storm we have weathered together has made us stronger as a couple, and as a family. Steve is my best friend. He makes me feel like a princess. I'm still so much in love with him, and looking forward to holding his hand as we grow old together.

Happy anniversary, baby.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

GOOD mornings! Or better mornings, at least.

I am so proud of myself. I've been waking up around 5:35 and getting out of bed by 6 most mornings lately. This is a big deal for me.

Could it be I am actually reprogramming my body ... or brain? Or whatever it is that has caused me to dread getting out of bed every morning for 35 years?

I don't know. I do know I have not been able to stop the morning bickering between the two kids, but I don't feel my blood boiling every time they start up. I know I at least have a handle on what is available for breakfast - if I haven't already made something - by the time they get out of bed and ask me. I know I have surprised myself by emptying the dishwasher or throwing in a load of laundry while the house is still quiet ... and that's new, too. Everything seems to run a little smoother when I have a minute to take a breath before the day really begins.

It sounds like I'm growing up, doesn't it?

Oh, it would be a stretch to say I am becoming a morning person. I wouldn't go quite that far yet. I love my sleep. It still pisses me off when Patch the Kitty decides he needs (NEEDS!!) to go outside or is hungry (HUNGRY, MAMA!!!) at 4 a.m. He's a persistent little sucker. The bane of my existence, that one. But I will admit there are times he pushes his forehead into my shoulder, purring loudly, and I decide I might as well just get up. It might be earlier than I had planned, but I'm rarely sorry.

From 6 to 7 it's a whirlwind hour, then the kids are gone to school and all is quiet again. I look forward to summer when we can ditch the whirlwind hour ... but it will be interesting to see how my mornings change otherwise. I don't see myself getting up at 5:30 during summer vacation. But then again, since the kids will be here all day it might be the only time I get to myself. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Clean Slate Sunday: 5.6.12 edition

Let's see. Some highlights.

Steve came home just for the night last night. We had a good visit, slept in, and we were all happy that he made waffles for us this morning. He's back at the campground near Detroit tonight.

Yesterday I started picking asparagus with the neighbors. 'Tis the season. My body aches in places it hasn't ached since last June when we were done picking. The season usually lasts 5-6 weeks.

I used the last of the tissues today. I am so tired of sneezing. I hate allergies.

Sam was out with his Papa and Uncle T setting posts for signs on the hunting property (near our house) yesterday and the three of them saw a mama black bear and three cubs. I am now slightly nervous to walk the dog after dark. Or ever.

Apparently I suck at applying nail polish to other people's nails. In my defense, it's really hard to paint only the tips of fingernails that have been gnawed off.

I love my animals. I do. But sometimes they make me question my sanity. Two-thirds of our four-legged friends just about sent me to the loony bin this past week. It has a lot to do with poop and puke and barking and howling. Oy.

I woke up from a nap today to find a tick crawling on my arm. (See previous comment re: animals.) *shudder* I hate ticks. Now every little tweak or itch makes me think I have more on me. Bleh.

I finished building and staking-in my raised garden beds last week. Then it started raining and I haven't gotten back out there to do any more. This week I'm hoping to get them leveled with some sand in the bottom (they're on a small slope so there are gaps between the wood and the ground on one end) and get them filled with good soil. And then ... plants!

Have a great week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Summer approaches. We will be cool and eat salad.

Cool, because we will have air conditioning installed later this month.

Salads, because I intend to plant lots of salad-making goodies in my garden.

And what is cooler than eating a salad made completely from ingredients grown by and harvested yourself?

I know. My kids don't think I'm funny, either.

Alas, they are stuck with me. And I am kind enough to include lots of the veggies they love in the garden plan, too.

Geez, has it already been a week since I checked in here? We've been busy.

Catching up: I finished the flower bed I was working on last week, and started building the raised beds for planting veggies. I'd love to show y'all some pictures, but someone (hint: not me) seems to have misplaced the SD card from my camera. If it doesn't turn up soon I'll snap some pics with my phone. Anywho, I had to quit working when it started raining Wednesday afternoon. I babysat Thursday, then the kids had Friday off school so we left to spend the weekend with Steve. That was really nice. I can't even tell you how awesome it is to arrive after just a few hours of driving versus an entire day of driving. We helped Steve (or rather "accompanied" him) to get moved to a different campground which is a little closer to the job, closer to home, and appears to be a place we're going to enjoy visiting over the summer. We got home Sunday evening ... yesterday was rainy and dreary and very blah and I'd really rather forget it ... and while I started out with a much more optimistic outlook this morning, the forecast of "mostly sunny and 67 degrees" isn't really panning out. As I write it's 51 and cloudy. Hmph.

However! It's a great day to plan out what I'll be planting in those raised beds once I have 'em finished. I did that this morning with the help of a garden planner on the Mother Earth News web site, thanks to this blog post by Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff. (Incidentally, in the same post Karen also perfectly and quite hysterically describes my [almost former*] contempt for getting out of bed in the morning.)

Now I'm giddy over my garden plans. For realz.


I don't have these labeled, but I have a list of what's there. See that bed on the right? That's the salad bed: lettuces, radishes, green onions, peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers (on a trellis, hopefully), and a variety of herbs. Middle bed: summer squash, carrots, peas (peas and carrots!), beets and green beans. Left side: potatoes, eggplant, cabbage, edamame, and sweet corn. I will plant more tomatoes and zucchini in one of the smaller beds I built last year.

A few of these things are new for me. I've never grown potatoes, for instance. And eggplant is not something I eat regularly, but certainly might if I have it growing in the garden. Experimenting is half the fun of gardening! And it really does get the kids interested in trying new things.

Now I just need to print off my list and mark what I'm going to buy - seeds for some, small plants for the rest. Oh, and finish building those raised beds. Come on, summer!



*Would you believe I've been a little brighter-eyed and bushier-tailed in the mornings lately? I think there's something to this waking up gradually to music. This week's wake-up tune is Trace Adkins' This Ain't No Love Song. Or maybe it's just that I know we're on the downslope of the getting-up-for-school routine. Whatevs. It's workin'. I even made muffins this morning. Ha!